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Thursday, June 05, 2008
The pivot
There's a thing in politics that you might call "the pivot." It's when you're on what might be an unpopular side of an issue, and then, as if by magic, you're on the right side (or the same side as your constituents, or more to the point, the winning side...) I just got a tip that the Florida Democratic delegation, all of whom were Clinton backers, will endorse Barack Obama en masse today. There will be no press availability (and no questions), just a statement.

The delegation includes three Congressional Black Caucus members, Kendrick Meek, whose district went 55% to 40% for Barack, Corinne Brown, whose district favored Obama 58.1% to 30% and Alcee Hastings, whose district was Obamafied by a 52.1% to 41.2% margin, all of whom will make the switch, along with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the most vigorous of the Florida Clinton backers (with the possible exception of Brown), whose district is the only one of the four to favor Mrs. Clinton (62.7% to 25.3%). (I also hear that Wasserman Schultz is part of a letter campaign coming from inside Congress to try and shoehorn Hillary onto the ticket as Obama's vice president. Note to whoever: that's what you might call "unhelpful.")

The other members of the delegation include Kathy Castor, who was already for Obama. Robert Wexler is not only already an Obama endorser, he's the official "Obama Guy," and the man who stole the show at Saturday' Rules Committee meeting... Sen. Bill Nelson, who was for Clinton, and Ron Klein (Boca) and Tim Mahoney (Palm Beach Gardens) were still uncommitted as of Monday.

This comes on the heels of the New York Congressional delegation making the move earlier this afternoon, led by the fabulous Charlie Rangel, who Chris Matthews was absolutely right in saying has the best New York accent EVER.

The Florida switch will be interesting news in the black community, where just today, a prominent Democratic activist told me they were planning to write an op-ed piece demanding that the black members respect the votes of their districts (just to show that turnabout is fair play, Robert Wexler's district favored Hillary in the primary, and he's taking some heat from some older, Jewish voters there for supporting Barack ...)

Georgia's John Lewis, who made a pain-filled switch to Obama earlier this year, has been all over TV as a born-again Obama supporter. He is the logical choice to introduce Barack at the nominating convention, where Obama will give his acceptance speech on the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. By switching earlier in the year, he fended off a primary challenge, tamped down a revolt among voters in his district, and had to say no to longtime friend Bill Clinton.

The pressure has always been on HRC's black supporters, though the really beligerent ones like Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio caught the most flak. Charlie Rangel I think has gotten a pass, because he was the one who pushed Hillary to run for the Senate in the first place, and probably for the White House, and because the New York delegation made its endorsement of her as a NY "favorite daughter" and as a group. There was no one left hanging out there. But I can't tell you how much grumbling I've heard and read online about the others.

Now, they start trying to put the primary behind them, as Mrs. Clinton does too.

UPDATE: The endorsement statement, from Corinne Brown, Kendrick Meek, Alcee Hastings and Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been released. It reads in part:
“It is with enthusiasm and excitement that we endorse Barack Obama for president.

“We are looking forward to working with Senator Obama in the days, weeks, and months ahead. America cannot afford another four years of failed Republican leadership, and we are committed to doing anything and everything in our power to ensure that Barack Obama is elected the next President of the United States.

“We also ask Senator Obama to do everything in his power to see to it that Florida has a full delegation to the Democratic National Convention with full voting rights.

“We congratulate Senator Clinton for a hard-fought campaign. Never in our lifetimes did we think that we would have the choice of a woman or an African American for the office of the presidency. We hope Americans realize how much the two of them have done for our country during this campaign. America is, indeed, a better place for having the two of them run for the highest office in the land.


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posted by JReid @ 3:05 PM  
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