Obama Moves on to General Election Before Primaries Conclude

By Lee Speigel

May 26, 2008 9:39pm

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was campaigning in New Mexico today, and this week he will also hit Nevada and Colorado.

These are states that have already held their primaries — Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., won New Mexico, she won Nevada, though Obama won more delegates, and Obama won Colorado.

Is the Democratic primary season over? No, it’s not. But Obama is signaling that he has moved on to the general election.

Puerto Rico and its 55 pledged delegates are up for grabs Sunday, and Montana and South Dakota will hold their contests — with a combined 31 pledged delegates available — on Tuesday, June 3. Obama will spend time in all three states, but he will also be spending time in these general election states, instead of spending time in the primary states.

So, is it presumptuous for Obama to be campaigning in states other than the three holding contests this week?

Depends who you ask.

Certainly the math is tough, if not impossible, for Clinton.

But then again, what signal does it send that Obama is taking time he could be spending in PR, MT, and SD, focused on the general election? Certainly that signal is something his campaign wants to be sending. They want everyone, especially the media and the 200-plus uncommitted superdelegates, to say this is all over.

But we don’t know what the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee will decide to do on Saturday, when it rules on the Michigan and Florida contests.

The ruling will likely mean the number of delegates needed to win the nomination will change.

And what happens if 900,000 Puerto Ricans turn out on Sunday and vote 70-30 for Clinton? Won’t that seriously buttress her popular vote argument so that she doesn’t have to rely on that fuzzy math where she gives herself 320,000 votes from Michigan and gives Obama zero?

And what happens if Obama doesn’t win Montana or South Dakota, states he’s expected to put in his column? Will he regret his time in Las Cruces?

The math is the math, yes, but Obama acting as if this is all a done deal certainly might rub some Democrats the wrong way. What say you? Is he being arrogant or pragmatic? Presumptuous or wise?

- jpt

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