Tuesday, March 4, 2008

It's Hillary

At 11:50 p.m. Central time, CNN calls Texas for Hillary Clinton.

She needed both states; she got them. We have a race, ladies and gentlemen.

Perhaps the strangest hypothetical in this whole surreal experience came from Larry King, who raised the specter with Clinton loyalist Paul Begala of Al Gore emerging as the "compromise candidate" from a brokered convention in Denver. No, Begala said; the unspoken undercurrent seemed to be that neither candidate would come that far to pave the way for Gore (although Begala didn't miss an opportunity to mention that Gore would be finishing his second term if not for those "guys in black robes," or something like that).

The night may end up being more about missed opportunities than victory. Obama had a chance, the pundits note, to wrap up the nomination -- in feel if not in reality. He had ridden a high for several weeks and had begun to attract the support of influential superdelegates; a win tonight in either Texas or Ohio would have meant a tsunami of similar support that could have mortally wounded Clinton's efforts. But it was not to be.

CNN's A-list hit the two high points in conclusion: One, as Jeffrey Toobin pointed out, "all bets are off" regarding the nomination, since neither candidate can secure it with pledged delegates alone; two, when asked where we go from here, Gloria Borger said, "We go to Pittsburgh."

Anyone out there reading from Pennsylvania? Get ready to become the center of the political universe. "Every journalist in the world is going to converge on Pennsylvania," Borger said, adding that the showdown there will make other "showdowns" look minor.

If you live in Pennsylvania (or have friends/relatives/high school buddies/college roommates/anyone you've ever bumped across who do), let me know. I'd love to hear from you.

Once again, late breakers -- those who decided whom to support in the last three days -- went for Clinton 61 to 38 percent. What was the big issue in the past three days? That "3 a.m. phone call" advertisement and the fallout it created.

"Clinton delivers, Obama inspires," Bill Schneider concludes from exit polls data.

How about your thoughts from tonight? Did her wins "restore the viability" of Clinton's campaign, as Wolf Blitzer said? Was it more of a disappointment for Obama than it was a Clinton coup? What do you expect going forward? Let me know in comments; we'll mull results over together tomorrow.