Today, while in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Obama responded to Senator Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT-Obama) recent comments that Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race:
I hadn’t talked to Pat[rick Leahy] about it. My attitude is that Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants. Her name is on the ballot and she is a fierce and formidable competitor. She should be able to compete and her supporters should be able to support her for as long as they are willing or able.
When we’ve completed all the contests that are remaining, some time in early June, that at that point there are no more contests and I think it is important to pivot as quickly as possible, for the super delegates or others to make a decision as quickly as possible so that we can settle on a nominee and give that nominee some time before the convention to select a vice president or presidential nominee to start thinking about how the convention should be conducted.
We will have had contests in all 50 states plus several territories. We will have tallied up the pledge delegate vote. We will have tallied up the popular vote, we will have tallied up how many states that were won by who. And then at that point I think people should have more than enough information to make a decision.
I think that the notion that the party has been divided by this contest is somewhat overstated. There’s no doubt that among some of my supporters or some of her supporters there’s probably been some irritation created, but I also think that in every contest you’ve seen in every state huge jumps in Democratic registration, including independents and Republicans who are changing registration to vote in the Democratic primaries. Those are people who are now invested in what happens. I think that bodes very well for us in November. I think the party is going to come together.
You can’t tell me that some of my supporters are going to say, ‘well, we’d rather have the guy who may want to stay in Iraq for a hundred years because we are mad that Senator Clinton ran a negative ad against Senator Obama. I think the converse is true as well. I think Senator Clinton’s supporters will ultimately look at a comparison and say we think an Obama administration will be very different from a McCain administration.
I’m not as well known as Senator Clinton is in this state, which is reflected in the polls, and she’s got a popular Democratic governor who gave her a good head start, and provided her with some institutional support.
We may not be able to win, but I think we’ve got a good chance and we’re going to work as hard as we can.
On a lighter side, while playing basketball with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA-Obama) at a local high school, Obama said, “You were boxing out, which is what we need.” He’ll need some good defense both on and off the court if he wants to win the nomination without killing the party. He’s going to need that defense, because as I have pointed out earlier, this race is getting pretty nasty, and we still have until the convention in August for it to only get nastier.
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