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JOHN YDSTIE, host:

Given that big week for Barack Obama, the preponderance of opinion among political pros and pundits is that Senator Hillary Clinton can no longer get enough delegates to deny Obama the nomination. Still she seems determined to continue campaigning until the end of the primary season even though some leading Democrats are pressing her to withdraw. Bill Carrick is a Democratic strategist not aligned with either candidate. He joins us from our studios at NPR West. Welcome.

Mr. BILL CARRICK (Democratic Strategist): I'm glad to be here.

YDSTIE: Why do you think Hillary Clinton is staying in the race? What's in it for her at this point?

Mr. CARRICK: Psychologically there's a decompression period. You're into a very competitive race and then it's just hard to give it up and accept the numerical reality that she confronts.

YDSTIE: Do you think she will continue through the primary season through all of these primaries?

Mr. CARRICK: Senator Clinton's got two very good states coming up for her this coming Tuesday in West Virginia where she should have a strong victory. And then the next week it's Kentucky and Oregon, and she has the state Kentucky where she should do very well in based on all her previous coalitions. And Senator Obama ought to do very well in Oregon.

This is clearly a difficult time for Senator Clinton and she has to figure out how she's gonna conclude her campaign, how she's gonna conduct herself in the interim with the reality that Senator Obama may be the nominee. But it's also a very difficult time for Senator Obama. He has to treat this period with some sensitivity, give Senator Clinton some room to make a decision on her own, not to feel pressured out, at the same time pursue aggressively the superdelegates without engaging her and also reaching out to her supporters in a dramatic way to unit the party.

YDSTIE: Obama has picked up a number of superdelegates in the past few days. Are Democratic heavyweights convinced that Obama is the best candidate to take on John McCain or are they just eager to get the nomination decided without any more collateral damage?

Mr. CARRICK: I think that a lot of people in the party think Senator Obama offers an unusual potential with some groups that we haven't done well with, particularly younger voters. He also, very energized support from the African American community, appeal to affluent Democrats, appeal to independent voters. A lot of Democrats look at that and say he would a different kind of candidate than we've had before in terms of what kind of people that he attracts to his candidacy that have been difficult for Democrats, and I think they look at that very positively.

YDSTIE: Of course another issue that's still hanging out there is what to do about Michigan and Florida who violated party rules by holding their contests too early. Do you have any Solomonic solution for what to do about their delegates?

Mr. CARRICK: If Senator Clinton's gonna prosecute this effort and try to get a significant delegate advantage out of it, she'll meet resistance from the Obama campaign and probably the institutional Democratic Party. Now the one wild card in this is that the institutional party may have different interest in the two candidates.

Senator Obama just wants to get it over with and make nice with Michigan and Florida for the general election. Senator Clinton would like to get a delegate hall out of that. But the institutional party has to worry about the precedent that's gonna be set. And what happens the next time if state parties decide to go early in the calendar in violation of the rules, if the party just caves in, gives these two states all their delegates, that would be a bad precedent for next time.

YDSTIE: Bill Carrick is a Democratic strategist. We spoke to him from our studios at NPR West.

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