Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown: A Superdelegate Speaks

Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, assesses his party's presidential nominating race and the role of his fellow superdelegates.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Ohio's voters may have already spoken but we're about to hear from one Ohio voter who gets a chance to speak again because he is a superdelegate. United States Senator Sherrod Brown is on the line. Good morning, sir.

Senator SHERROD BROWN (Democrat, Ohio): Good morning. How are you?

INSKEEP: I'm doing okay. We spoke with you a few weeks ago. We should remind people that you had not endorsed a candidate at that time. Now that your state has voted, and voted for Hillary Clinton, do you feel an obligation to support her?

Sen. BROWN: No, I don't feel an obligation to support. I think this whole primary season has been good and still is through Ohio, into Ohio and Texas, and it past. It's been good for the voters and for the Democratic Party and only for the nation. Because these candidates have really spent time in these states and listened to people and I think it's fine that it continues.

INSKEEP: And so you do not accept the argument of some, like Barack Obama, for example, that superdelegates should support what their voters tell them to do?

Sen. BROWN: No, I think it's more complicated than that. I think that superdelegates have been chosen for a different reason, otherwise there would be no reason for the superdelegates.

But I go back to this really has been good for the Democratic Party. Because I look at what the two candidates and their surrogates did in Ohio. And they really did learn the state, unlike the general election - as many times as they come to Ohio, they fly in to Steubenville or fly into Toledo and then they fly out and they really did learn this state and learn this state's concerns. And you know, they talked about trade and manufacturing and the middle class and I think issues that wouldn't have come up nearly as - as - and in this kind of detail if there had not been this long primary season.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Well, let me ask about an argument that Hillary Clinton's camp is making. They're saying, look, she won the big states. She's been winning the big states anyway and she wants swing states and Ohio would certainly fit into that category, the implication being that Barack Obama would not do as well as the Democratic nominee in a key state like Ohio. Do you think Obama could win Ohio in November?

Sen. BROWN: Yeah, I think so. I think either of them will win Ohio in November and I think that really is kind of the whole point. We've seen - as this campaign has unrolled, we've seen big ideas and lots of energy in Ohio and Texas, and this week in Vermont and Rhode Island leading into North Carolina and Pennsylvania. On the Republican side, you see John McCain occasionally foraying into Rocky River, Ohio and doing a town hall. The energy and the ideas are on our side. And then yesterday you see John McCain going off to Washington and meeting with President Bush, and the choice here is candidates with energy and big ideas versus, in essence, John McCain running for a third Bush term. So playing out this way is fine with me. I think it's good for the middle class and voters in Ohio and across the country, and I think it's good for the Democratic party because reactions on our side.

INSKEEP: So would you like to make some news by telling us who you're going to support?

Sen. BROWN: I'm - that will be a later call we will do that.

INSKEEP: Okay. I look forward to that. How are you going to make the decision? What are the criteria for you?

Sen. BROWN: Well, there are a lot of things to look at. Who has won - who wins the most delegates, who has won the most popular vote, that's a very close call with Hillary winning big states, Barack winning more states, including Barack's strength in the caucuses, all of that matters. Who has the momentum, who ultimately is the most electable, but I don't see that we're gonna - there's gonna be no backroom deals here where the superdelegates get together and overturn the wishes of the party. We don't want anything like that. We - I - almost all of us, and this is the uniqueness of the Democratic primary this time, are very happy with each candidate. The Republicans sort of struggled. They were not very happy with any candidate, we're happy with - overwhelming numbers of Democrats are happy with both candidates, and it's up to the candidates to make sure it stays that way, that it doesn't get too negative, and that's really sort of my exhortation to them, but I'm very pleased with the way this has folded out.

INSKEEP: Is an Obama Clinton ticket or a Clinton Obama ticket a realistic possibility?

Sen. BROWN: I believe it is. I would have answered three weeks ago no, today I believe it is and I think that would be thrilling.

INSKEEP: What changed?

Sen. BROWN: I think what changed is that it's very much a two-person race with both of them having a real - and have made a very good case - each of them has made a good case for the nomination. I think that's - and I hear more and more Democrats saying, you know, this has gone on a long time, let's see if there's a way to get them to run together. That would be the goal.

INSKEEP: Senator Brown, we just got about 20 seconds, but do you feel any need to make this decision and for superdelegates at large to make this decision before the convention late in the summer?

Sen. BROWN: Well, I think so, yes. I mean I don't know what I'll think a month from now, but I gotta think it's best if this is - if it's done well in advance of the convention. I don't want 1924 and to go to a - you know, to have floor fights and do anything like that and I would be shocked if that would happen. I think it will happen far in advance of then.

INSKEEP: 1924 was the year the Democrats had to vote more than 100 times to choose a candidate. Senator Brown, thank you very much.

Sen. BROWN: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Sherrod Brown is the United States Senator, a Democrat from Ohio and he is also a Democratic Party superdelegate. You're listening to Morning Edition from NPR News.

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