Dems Fear Clinton's 'Tonya Harding' Option

Democratic Party official says Clinton can win but it would be ugly.

ByABC News via logo
March 26, 2008, 6:57 AM

March 26, 2008 — -- It is improbable but, yes, still mathematically possible that New York Sen. Hillary Clinton could win the Democratic presidential nomination.

What Democratic officials across the country fear is what Clinton will have to do to party rival Illinois Sen. Barack Obama -- who leads in pledged delegates and the popular vote -- to make that happen.

"I don't think she has no chance, but the route for her to victory is so bad for the Democratic Party -- it's to damage Obama so much that people feel he's not electable," said ABC News political contributor Matthew Dowd, a former adviser to President Bush, repeating the sentiments of many in the other party.

One Democratic Party official called Clinton's strategy "The Tonya Harding Option" -- the idea that Clinton's only path to the gold medal is to destroy her leading competitor.

After staying away from the controversy involving Obama's former pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright for almost two weeks, Clinton for the first time personally injected him into the race.

"He would not have been my pastor," Clinton said of Wright during a news conference Tuesday in Greensburg, Pa. "You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend."

With Obama on vacation and still worried about the Wright controversy, Clinton should be upbeat. But she has been on the ropes for exaggerating the danger she faced during her 1996 trip to Bosnia -- a story that delighted the Obama campaign, which brazenly pushed it to the media.

It is getting edgy out there; even Chelsea Clinton is feeling the heat. After visiting 84 colleges, she was finally asked about the Monica Lewinsky scandal Tuesday at Butler University. A student asked the former first daughter whether her mother had lost credibility after initially blaming the scandal on a vast right-wing conspiracy.

"Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked that question in the, I don't know, maybe, 70 college campuses I've been to, and I don't think that is any of your business," Clinton said to resounding applause.