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Published: Saturday, 5/10/2008

Hillary, now girl, it's time - for real

BY ROSE RUSSELL

HILL, we need to talk. I mean, girl-to-girl, you know?

It's like this: It's time to quit. The handwriting is clearly on the wall, and here's what it says:

• You have loaned your campaign $11.5 million of your own money because not enough comes in. About as soon as you thanked Indiana on Tuesday, you asked for contributions.

• You only beat Sen. Barack Obama in the Indiana primary by 2 points, or 14,000 votes. Not a wide margin as was forecast, and he walloped you in the North Carolina primary.

• You don't have the backing of enough Democratic, and Republican, pillars. President Nixon may be still spinning in his grave since his daughter, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, was revealed as a contributor to Mr. Obama's campaign. Former Sen. George McGovern isn't the first to switch to endorse him. And while you have received a couple more super delegates since Wednesday, nine more will back your opponent.

• You are a pawn for the GOP, which so desperately wants you to be the nominee. Your family nemesis, Rush Limbaugh, is being criticized for telling Republicans to switch parties to vote for you to thwart an Obama win.

• You risk your political future and your party's fall success by trying to change the rules as your loss becomes clearer. The Democratic National Committee said the nominee needs 2,025 delegates, not 2,209, which would include Florida and Michigan. If your campaign insists on 2,209, there could be chaos as Mr. Limbaugh wants.

• You are ignoring calls to quit. Your party peers are not being vindictive, but only want ample time to heal and unite to avoid what would amount to a third Bush term.

• You say you will run until there is a nominee. There is; it's just not yet official.

So much is at stake, Hillary, and your bowing out graciously will determine whether party factions unify and how well your opponent does this fall.

These last weeks have proven that the American people are not held hostage by the national broadcast media. Every issue they say is of substance is not always so with citizens, many who change the channel to keep from hearing the apparent futile drumming of Wrightgate.

And though some voters disliked the "bitter" comment, every one of us is bitter, or should be bitter, frustrated, disgusted, sour, upset, disgruntled, angry, perturbed, or disturbed when another soldier dies in Iraq or Afghanistan, when more jobs go offshore, when we pull up to the gas pump, pay for groceries, and another homeowner victimized by greed faces foreclosure.

Mr. Obama's message about change and hope and the integrity he has tried to convey resonate with voters. It is true, as some of my dearest friends remind me, that he's the most liberal of senators. Yet he does well because white citizens vote for him. You wouldn't know that from the media who repeatedly link him with black voters, as if blacks are his only supporters.

For example, he won 63 out of 110 pledged delegates in North Carolina, which is 74 percent white and 21.7 percent black. He did not carry a rural Indiana county, but did well in numerous Tar Heel state rural counties, where your husband, Bill, spent much time campaigning.

A similar story has occurred in other states with few blacks. In Utah, about 94 percent white and 1 percent black, he won 14 out of 23 delegates. Idaho is 95 percent white and 0.7 percent black, and Mr. Obama received 15 out of 18 delegates. Wisconsin is 90 percent white and 6 percent black. He got 42 of 74 delegates there.

That obliterates your argument with USA Today about an "emerging pattern" of sinking support for him "among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans."

That was an unwise response to a question about your campaign anyway.

How he fares, though, is up to you now, Hillary. See? You still have significant power. If you're a sore loser, he won't do well, your party may lose, and the whole nation would lose. If you bow out gracefully and really campaign hard, that will unnerve the Republicans and, who knows, some GOP-turned-Democrats for the primary might stay.

Wishful thinking, I know.

Hillary, you are a classy lady. Though you have stooped to lows in this primary campaign, there is time to get out with your class still very much intact.

If you refuse to take the upper road, the Clinton legacy won't only be further stained.

It will be ripped to shreds.

Rose Russell is a Blade associate editor.

E-mail rrussell@theblade.com



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