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Edwards eyes a brokered convention

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/edwards-eyes-a-brokered-convention-2008-01-29.html Edwards eyes a brokered convention By Alexander Bolton Posted: 01/29/08
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 29, 2008
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      http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/edwards-eyes-a-brokered-convention-2008-01-29.html

      Edwards eyes a brokered convention
      By Alexander Bolton
      Posted: 01/29/08 12:01 AM [ET]

      Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) has his sights set
      on playing kingmaker at the Denver convention in
      August, one of his most senior campaign officials
      hinted Monday.

      While dismissing suggestions that this implied Edwards
      had accepted he was out of contention for the
      nomination, Deputy Campaign Manager Jonathan Prince
      said the candidate would probably get enough delegates
      to play a decisive role in tipping the Democratic
      nomination under party rules.

      Party insiders could also give Edwards the nomination
      at a brokered convention if they judged him more
      electable in a match-up against GOP front-runner Sen.
      John McCain (Ariz.). “At a brokered convention, all
      bets are off,” said Prince.

      Prince told reporters in a conference call that in “a
      worst-case scenario” Edwards would control 20 to 25
      percent of the Democratic delegates heading into the
      convention. He predicted that Sens. Barack Obama
      (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) would each
      have 35 to 40 percent of the delegates, well short of
      half the 4,049 needed to win the nomination.

      The race could leave Obama and Clinton with nearly the
      same number of delegates because complex rules would
      divide delegates evenly among candidates who win more
      than 30 percent in the congressional districts that
      make up each state.

      Spokesmen for the Obama and Clinton campaigns did not
      respond to requests for comment.

      Many political observers believe that if Edwards had
      the power to pick the Democratic nominee and could not
      grab the nomination for himself, he would throw his
      support to Obama. During a memorable exchange at a
      Democratic debate in New Hampshire this month, Edwards
      sided with Obama as a fellow candidate of change and
      drew a sharp contrast with Clinton, whom he has
      labeled a candidate of the status quo.

      Prince argued that since nearly 800 of the delegates
      are so-called superdelegates and thus not bound by the
      results of any state primary or caucus, a candidate
      would have to get 60 percent of all the delegates in
      play to be assured of the nomination.

      Prince said that Obama or Clinton would have to win
      nearly 80 percent of the vote in many congressional
      districts around the country in order to win the
      nomination outright — a difficult achievement
      considering how competitive the race has been so far.


      Edwards’s campaign manager, David Bonior, said on a
      conference call with reporters, “We have a great shot
      to pick up a lot of delegates.”

      But he refused to say on the conference call how
      Edwards would wield his delegates: “We’re not going to
      talk about how we’re going to use our delegates.”

      Stephen Wayne, a political science professor at
      Georgetown University who specializes in presidential
      primary politics, said Edwards could help decide the
      nomination.

      “If Obama and Clinton come out even after Super
      Tuesday and Edwards had 50 delegates, Edwards could
      make a difference if [superdelegates] are split,” said
      Wayne. “Edwards is not going to drop out if he can
      have an impact.”

      At the Democratic convention this August, delegates
      will be allowed to vote freely even if they are
      already pledged to a candidate, Wayne explained. But
      he expected that Edwards’s delegates would do his
      bidding.

      Wayne said that Edwards’s delegates have been
      “hand-picked” because of their loyalty.

      “That loyalty would probably extend to the convention,
      though Democrats have a rule that would not impose
      loyalty,” he explained.

      Wayne, however, predicted that either Clinton or Obama
      would probably wrap up the nomination before the
      convention, but conceded “anything is possible.”

      The scenario of a brokered convention could unfold in
      the GOP race, though analysts consider it less likely
      because most of the Republican primary states allocate
      all delegates to the winner. Unlike at the Democratic
      convention, Republican candidates would control the
      delegates pledged to them and could give support
      directly to a rival.

      If either former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) or
      McCain, the candidates leading in the delegate count,
      fail to open up a commanding lead before the
      convention, one of their rivals could have a decisive
      influence.

      Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) has seven
      delegates to his name and could capture more by
      winning in Southern states where evangelical
      Christians make up a large percentage of the
      electorate. While many states allocate all their
      Republican delegates to the statewide winner, several
      do so proportionally, opening a door for Huckabee or
      former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to pick up
      more votes.

      In Alabama, for example, if no candidate wins more
      than half the vote, each receives delegates provided
      he wins at least 20 percent. In Arkansas, where
      Huckabee can expect a strong performance, delegates
      are also assigned based on voting percentages if no
      candidate wins with more than half. In Florida,
      delegates go to any candidate who wins one of the
      state’s 25 congressional districts.

      Giuliani is likely to pick up delegates in Florida and
      could also win New York and New Jersey depending on
      his performance Tuesday in the Sunshine State.

      If Huckabee or Giuliani stays in the race long enough
      to be able to wield delegates at the GOP convention in
      September, yet has no chance of winning the
      nomination, many political analysts expect either
      would support McCain. Despite the competitive primary,
      both candidates have maintained cordial relations with
      McCain while fighting bitterly with Romney.
    • Ram Lau
      He s the kingmaker. And it seems like he ll be the VP nominee at the end.
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 29, 2008
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        He's the kingmaker. And it seems like he'll be the VP nominee at the end.
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