Senior Correspondent

WASHINGTON ( – The Democratic presidential nomination contest between Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) will likely continue into June, through the remaining 10 primaries because Sen. Clinton remains convinced “she is the strongest candidate to beat the Republicans in November.”

The Clinton campaign is running out of time to overtake the nearly unassailable Obama lead in delegates to the August nominating convention and in popular votes won in the first three months of the primary battle.

Sen. Obama has expanded his lead over Sen. Clinton in national polls and on the eve of the April 22 vote in Pennsylvania (after Final Call press time) has gained ground, despite furors over his remarks on small-town residents and comments by his former pastor. More and more so-called “super-delegates,” including a onetime Bill Clinton Cabinet-member, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, endorsing Mr. Obama’s candidacy.


Sen. Clinton hopes a big win in Pennsylvania will ignite a strong run through the final 9 contests, including North Carolina and Indiana, redefining the contest and giving her fresh evidence to argue she is the stronger Democrat against Republican John McCain in November’s presidential election.

Some critics are accusing Sen. Clinton of resorting to the role of “spoiler,” damaging Sen. Obama badly enough to ensure a Republican victory in November. The Clinton campaign’s continuing attacks against Sen. Obama do: “Only one thing. Help Obama lose in November,” Michael Steele, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland told The Final Call. A Republican, Mr. Steele pointed out he is not disappointed that Sen. Clinton’s attacks on Sen. Obama may help Sen. McCain win.

The Clinton campaign insists their candidate is not helping the GOP. “After the final Democratic primary in June, neither candidate will haveenough delegates to secure the nomination. It’s important that the voters in the upcoming primary states have their voices heard and their votes counted,” Clinton campaign spokesperson Traci Blunt said in an e-mail response to Final Call requests.

“Senator Clinton remains in the contest because she is the strongest candidate to beat the Republicans in November. She has won the big states like California, Ohio, New York, and Nevadaand these states are critical wins in the general election. She will remain in the race because she has many supporters and she will see this process through to the finish,” said Ms. Blunt.

“Here’s another way to look at it. Imagine that the number of delegates is equal to dollars. If you had roughly $1,500and your opponent had $1,650 would you just give your opponent your money because he had a few hundred more dollars and there was an opportunity for you to earn more? No. There is about a 1 percent differential and Senator Clinton has worked too hard and has the best interest of the country in mind and she is not just going to walk away,” Ms. Blunt said.

Sen. Clinton’s critics however, see ulterior motives.

“It must be clear to everyone by now that Hillary is no longer in this race to win,” Eric Wattree wrote in New York’s Black Star News Online. “Hillary’s sole purpose at this point is to stay in the race as long as she can, and sling enough mud on Barack Obama to prevent him from winning in November. Then, since at McCain’s age he’s not expected to remain in office but one term, Hillary will still be young enough to run in 2012,” Mr. Wattree continued.

A narrow win by Sen. Clinton would probably be enough to keep her in the race, but would not slow the calls from Democrats for her to abandon her campaign and let Sen. Obama concentrate on the general election.