The Note: Split Screams

Either something is beginning to rumble in the Democratic race . . . or the race is already over (and someone just forgot to tell the superdelegates).

Either the Clintons have the pull to keep the race alive for another month . . . or they've long since worn out their welcome.

Either Joe Andrew captured a critical moment with his switch . . . or he shut himself out of gainful employment for the foreseeable future.

Either the Sunday morning TV face-off between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will redefine the race . . . or it won't.

Either math is math . . . or message is message (and if so, it won't be enough to wait out the clock -- and you might blame the Rev. Jeremiah Wright for that).

Speaking of math -- the Obama campaign rolls out another former DNC chairman's endorsement on Friday: Paul Kirk, a superdelegate who led the party from 1985-1989, is coming out for Obama -- a day after Andrew's switch, an Obama campaign official tells The Note. (And don't count on that being it for the day, as the dribble continues.)

If Clinton, D-N.Y., can make this is a race yet, we're about to find out just how patient Democrats can be with a race that's showing signs of shredding the party. Notwithstanding moves by Andrew, Kirk, and the like, Clinton needs superdelegates to wait for her case to play out -- and then she needs an utter and total rejection of the Democratic frontrunner.

"Despite a series of trials that have put Mr. Obama on the defensive and illustrated the burdens he might carry in a fall campaign, the Obama campaign is rolling along, leaving Mrs. Clinton with dwindling options," Adam Nagourney and Carl Hulse write in The New York Times. "By and large, the group that matters most at this point -- the uncommitted superdelegates, who are likely to hold the balance of power -- still seem to view their decision the way the Obama campaign would like them to see it."

Obama is clearly still leading -- but Clinton has a bounce in her step to match her bounce in the polls.

"The Democratic nomination race is murkier than ever," USA Today's Jill Lawrence writes. "Hillary Rodham Clinton is rising in the polls while Barack Obama is gaining ground among superdelegates who will decide the winner."

Says Charlie Cook: "The delegate math couldn't look much worse for Clinton, but the current political dynamics are just horrific for Obama."

The AP's take: "Despite the momentum building behind Clinton after her win in Pennsylvania, it still appeared mathematically impossible for her to overcome Obama's delegate lead for the party nomination. . . . Regardless, Clinton appeared to be gaining strength among voters, especially the white working-class which has reacted negatively Obama's association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright."

Clinton brought a defiant tone to her answers Thursday, her rejection by Andrew and slippage among supers notwithstanding. "I think this has been good for the Democratic Party," Clinton told Cynthia McFadden on ABC's "Nightline" (offering what may be becoming a minority opinion). "I think that this is such a close election, why would any of us think that it shouldn't go to the end?"

She also said that her husband won't have a West Wing office in her administration, and flatly rejected any comparison between Obama '08 and Clinton '92. "No. No, not at all," she said.

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