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Election 2008: Money, Media & Influence

What Do Clinton's Superdelegates Want?

In her non-concession speech Tuesday night, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton said she wanted to hear from her supporters before deciding her next step.

So NPR called a few of Clinton's most dedicated supporters — her declared superdelegates — to find out what advice they had to offer.

Some want Clinton to leverage her close-second finish to get on the ticket with Obama. Eileen Macoll, vice-chairwoman of the Washington state Democratic Party, says that Clinton made a lawyerly case for herself on Tuesday night as the vice-presidential candidate.

"She reminded us that she did win the big states with the big electoral votes," says Macoll, who is not bothered by Clinton's reluctance to concede to Obama. "I think we need her to continue to make her case."

But other women in the party don't want Clinton to keep fighting.

Irene Stein, the Democratic Committee chairwoman in Thompkins County, N.Y., says Clinton should end the drama relatively soon. "She should take a few days and think about how she wants to wind this up, but we don't want to carry this into this convention," Stein says.

As to the vice-presidential slot, Stein says New York state would miss Clinton if she were to leave the U.S. Senate.

Florida superdelegate Jon Ausman is sure: Clinton should not join the Obama ticket. Ausman, who helped broker the deal to give Florida's delegates half-votes at the Democratic convention, says Clinton's real influence will come after the convention — and after the general election.

"The bottom line is that Barack Obama needs Sen. Hillary Clinton to vote for and promote his policies in the U.S. Senate," Ausman says.

But Ausman says he's in no hurry to see Clinton make a formal concession to Obama. For one thing, he says, Clinton needs time to process her emotions. He compares her to an Olympic hopeful who's just been edged out in the time-trials for the 100-meter-dash.

"She's feeling the agony of defeat, which she has to conceal, because everybody around her has recorders and cameras. And if she doesn't conceal it she'll be ridiculed by Matt Drudge," he says.

There's one thing all these local Democratic activists agree on — and in this, they differ from some of Clinton's more ardent grassroots supporters: Clinton and Obama must have a reconciliation.

In Seattle, superdelegate and King County Executive Ron Sims was one of Clinton's earliest supporters. On Tuesday night, he bowed to the inevitable and switched to Obama. He says he wants the candidates to join forces as soon as possible.

"If it was me, it would be done in the next 10 days," Sims says, "because time is not an ally for the Democrats."