Democratic presidential rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have 42 days remaining until the critical Pennsylvania primary — a contest some have hoped would settle the race for the nomination. Politico's editor in chief, John Harris, thinks that's not likely. "It's clear to me," Harris says, that "this will probably go past Pennsylvania, with Michigan and Florida remaining in dispute."
Intense campaigning in the Keystone State continues amid questions about whether Michigan and Florida will hold primaries that count. The Democratic Party stripped those states of their delegates for holding votes too soon.
Meanwhile, as Obama captured the primary in Mississippi on Tuesday, attention shifted to remarks by Clinton adviser Geraldine Ferraro.
Ferraro, herself a former vice presidential candidate, told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif., "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."
After Obama and his supporters objected, Ferraro told the New York Times, "Every time that campaign is upset about something, they call it racist. I will not be discriminated against because I'm white. If they think they're going to shut up Geraldine Ferraro with that kind of stuff, they don't know me."
Clinton called Ferraro's statements "regrettable." Harris says the number of days Ferraro remains a factor will depend on how much Obama thinks the discussion will help. "Obama may say, let's move on, that we don't want this to be about race," he says.
The lesson from Mississippi, according to Harris, is that Obama remains firmly and emphatically in control of the black vote. Harris recalls that members of the Congressionial Black Caucus were early Clinton faithful. "But that's over," he says.
The continued tightness in the Democratic contest has led to decreased coverage for the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain. Harris says there are two schools of thought about the effect on McCain's campaign. The first, he explains, has the Democrats spending the next few weeks bashing each other and making McCain's points for him. The second, he explains, has McCain dropping off the radar.
"John McCain is a ghost," Harris says. "No presidential candidate in the world wants to be a ghost."
Harris says McCain's best course of action now is to pounce on any of the impolitic things Democrats say to each other. He says McCain needs to begin refining his own plans for the general election, in which he must unite his party. Conservatives, in particular, aren't thrilled he's the likely nominee.
"McCain needs to politely tell people to get over it," Harris says.