Obama preparing to end epic Clinton fight

DEMOCRATIC White House hopeful Barack Obama said he was on the verge of wrapping up his epic contest with Hillary Clinton next week once their bruising nominating battle climaxes.

Asked when the party would finally have a nominee to take on Republican John McCain in November’s election, Obama yesterday told reporters: “After Tuesday we will.”

The Illinois senator noted that the Democratic Party’s rules committee would meet tomorrow to adjudicate on one of the biggest controversies remaining — whether Florida and Michigan delegates should be reinstated after a scheduling row.

Then on Sunday, Puerto Rico holds its primary followed by the last two contests on Tuesday in Montana and South Dakota.

“And at that point, all the information will be in. There will be no more questions answered,” Obama said, predicting that Democratic grandees known as superdelegates “will make their decisions pretty quickly after that”.

According to his campaign, Obama needs just 45 more delegates to reach the current winning line of 2,026.

While that number could go up depending on a Florida-Michigan fix this weekend, both candidates would still need the support of enough superdelegates to go over the top. But Obama would need far fewer.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the nation’s top elected Democrat who is to preside over the party’s August convention, said she would “step in” if there is no resolution by late June about Florida and Michigan.

“Because we cannot take this fight to the convention. It must be over before then,” said Pelosi. She has remained neutral in the battle between Obama and Clinton.

But Clinton, vowing no compromise on allowing Florida and Michigan back into the fray despite their violation of the primary calendar in January, is pursuing an 11th hour bid to deprive Obama of the nomination.

The former first lady has written to the nearly 800 superdelegates to try to persuade them she was more likely to beat McCain in November’s general election. “I believe I am best prepared to lead this country as president and best prepared to put together a broad coalition of voters to break the lock Republicans have had on the electoral map and beat Senator McCain,” she wrote.

However, in recent weeks, both McCain and Obama have been pummelling each other and leaving Clinton largely out of the mix as the contours of a general election battle take shape.

Obama, who opposed the Iraq war from the start, accuses McCain of wanting to prolong “failed” US policies, and told The New York Times he was considering an overseas trip this summer after securing the Democratic nomination.

“Iraq would obviously be at the top of the list of stops,” the Democrat said, while scorning McCain’s offer of a joint trip as a “political stunt”.

McCain said Obama’s possible visit to Iraq was “long overdue.”


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