Hillary Clinton finally said the words that Dem party poohbahs were waiting to hear: “Today, as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him. And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me.”

But not without reminding everyone that she is a political force to be reckoned with:

Eighteen million of you, from all walks of life… women and men, young and old, Latino and Asian, African- American and Caucasian … rich, poor, and middle-class, gay and straight, you have stood with me. …

Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about eighteen million cracks in it … [Emphasis, The Stiletto.]

For those who are into stats, in the 28-minute concession speech, which started 45 minutes late, Hillary mentioned Obama’s name a total of 13 times – but not until seven minutes into her speech after she had already “uttered 650 words.”  

Several things about the speech – and the reaction of the “overwhelmingly white, largely female” crowd – will no doubt provide ample fodder for speculation by the chattering class:

 † Hillary suspended – not ended – her campaign. The Wall Street Journal explains: 

According to Democratic Party Rules, suspending a campaign differs in that it allows the candidate to brings their delegates to the convention and release them to the nominee there. 

It also allows Clinton delegates who haven’t yet been slated by state and local party bodies to go to the convention. Clinton aides stressed, however, that the New York senator is 100% behind Sen. Obama and will be campaigning and working hard to get him elected.

They also cited other recent instances of candidates suspending their campaigns rather than ending them outright, saying that Sen. Bill Bradley did the same thing in 2000, as did Howard Dean in 2004. John Edwards suspended his campaign, rather than ending it outright after his bid for the Democratic nomination fell short.

† She reiterated how little experienced Obama has: “I have served in the Senate with him for four years.” [She was elected in 2000; he was elected in 2004.]    

† Hillary also reminded her base that she and her gender were not accorded the same respect as Obama and his race:

I am a woman and, like millions of women, I know there are still barriers and biases out there, often unconscious, and I want to build an America that respects and embraces the potential of every last one of us. …

Let us resolve and work toward achieving very simple propositions: There are no acceptable limits, and there are no acceptable prejudices in the 21st century in our country. …

As we gather here today in this historic, magnificent building, the 50th woman to leave this Earth is orbiting overhead. If we can blast 50 women into space, we will someday launch a woman into the White House.

 † Finally, she never once mentioned John McCain (R-AZ) – neither to attack his positions, nor to contrast them with Obama’s. And though several times during her speech she urged her followers to switch their allegiance from her campaign to Obama’s – “we need to … have to … must … help elect Barack Obama our president” – she never explicitly admonished her supporters not to crossover to McCain. 

Each time Hillary mentioned electing Obama, the idea of working or voting for him elicited boos from her diehard base. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank reports:

When Clinton got to the exhortation to “do all we can to help elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States,” some boos hollered from the balconies mixed with the applause. The isolated booing returned each of the half-dozen times Clinton returned to a variation of the phrase.

“I would die and slit my wrist before I’d vote for Obama,” said a Silver Spring woman in the Clinton volunteers section who gave her name only as Edith.

The New York Times wonders, “Can she pivot millions of supporters in the direction of Mr. Obama, the candidate she just stopped denigrating?” Hillary’s friend and advisor Ann Lewis warns Milbank’s colleague Anne Kornblut that voter loyalty “is not switched with the turn of a faucet.” 

“It’s sad, very sad,” Elinor Walker, a 48-year-old Rockville, MD attorney and Clinton campaign volunteer tells The Wall Street Journal. “I hoped I’d see a woman president in my lifetime and I really hoped it would be her. … He hasn’t earned my trust. It is an enormous vote of confidence for me personally to vote for a president.”  

Nevertheless, “I don’t know any Hillary or feminist supporter who isn’t going to support Obama,” claims Gloria Steinem. That’s an extraordinary statement – and may be more bravura or wishful thinking than an accurate read of the zeitgeist.  

Writing for The Huffington Post blogger Jane Hamsher – who captured that sensational video of distraught New Yorker Harriet Christian after being ejected from the Dem Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting last weekend – comments on the disconnect between “academic” feminists and the women they are supposed to be leading: 

Hillary Clinton managed to activate female voters that the Democratic party hasn’t been able to reach. They aren’t coming out for an issue …they’re coming out for a person they identify with. They’ve witnessed her indignities, and watched her dig her heels in and refuse to concede when people made jokes about “white bitch month” and hurled abuse in her direction. They saw her keep smiling and maintain her composure in a way that often times seemed super human. They saw her weather the arrows they themselves have suffered, and cheered her on as she refused to retreat. 

Academic feminists largely abandoned Clinton with their wine track male bretheren [sic], and are now consumed with making arguments like Clinton as a VP would be “bad for women,” which probably makes little sense to ordinary working women who see themselves in her struggle.  

Ellen Malcolm of Emily’s List, the pro-abortion women’s PAC that supported Hillary, tells The WaPo that while “Obama will have to work” to win the women’s vote, “[o]nce the spotlight is on the choice between Senator Obama and Senator McCain, the picture will become clearer.” 

Yes, but this clarity may have a surprising result.  

Cynthia Ubaldo, 44, of Columbus, OH, “switched her registration from Democratic to independent and donated $10 to Mr. McCain.” She tells The Times that Hillary’s endorsement is “a mandatory, empty gesture,” adding “I’m sure Hillary’s cussing Obama out to Bill and Chelsea as we speak.”  She is not supporting McCain as a form of protest, she prefers him to Obama: “This guy is not a conservative.”  

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Republican pollster Whit Ayres predicts, “There are going to be some real disgruntled women who feel like Barack Obama took what should have been Hillary Clinton’s because he wasn’t willing to be patient. John McCain is a very attractive alternative to people who are upset. He’s not a threatening Republican; he’s not a right-wing Republican.” 

For her part, The Stiletto has spoken to several Hillary supporters and feminists in New York who say they plan to stay home on election day (the vast majority) or to vote for McCain (a handful), whom they consider the lesser of two evils. Why? Dinkins.   

In a recent interview on “Your World With Neil Cavuto” a calm and coiffed Harriet Christian explains (video link) why she plans to vote for McCain in November:   

If Hillary Clinton does not get the nomination for president, I will not vote for Obama – not just because of Obama, but because I feel the Democratic Party has left me. I have not left them. 

McCain is rolling out the welcome mat for disaffected Hillary supporters, as well as independent women. Recent polling data suggests they may be receptive to his overtures, reports TownHall.com’s Amanda Carpenter: 

Primary race exit polling showed white female voters have supported Clinton by 24 more points than Obama and his favorability ratings among white women suffered a 13-point drop- from 56 percent to 43 percent – since last February, according to a May 29 Pew Research polling report. The same poll showed Obama losing that demographic by eight points to his GOP general election opponent John McCain, 41 to 49 percent.  

The gap was also apparent in a private poll conducted last month by McLaughlin & Associates last month. It found McCain had a 49 to 38 percent edge over Obama among white women nationwide. … 

“Most of us feel that the Democrats need to be taught a lesson for their silence on the subject of sexism and the peril they will find themselves in for ignoring their most loyal base of voters,” blogged Cynthia Ruccia, founder of Women for Fair Politics, Thursday. “I for one, believe strongly that when it comes to sexism, we will continue to be treated savagely the way Hillary was treated if we don’t speak up now and always.”  

Washington-Post ABC News polling over a three-month period, suggests that up to 25 percent of Hillary’s core supporters will “defect” to McCain. A Pew Research Center poll conducted just before primary season ended put the number at 28 percent, reports the WaPo:  

Other data in the new Pew poll may add to the concern among some Democrats. In that survey, the percentage of Clinton supporters holding a positive view of Obama continues to slide: Forty-five percent of them view Obama favorably, down from 58 percent in December, before the voting started. 

The Clinton voters most open to switching sides this time in Post-ABC national data are white women, white voters without college degrees, older voters, moderates and those prioritizing experience over change. This is the most fertile territory for McCain to repeat the feat of one of McCain’s heroes, Ronald Reagan. 

Twenty-six percent of Democrats crossed party lines to vote for Reagan in 1980 after a bruising fight for the Democratic nomination between President Jimmy Carter and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) – a battle that lasted all the way to the convention.      

In a nod to her close-but-no-cigar achievement, Obama released a glad-handing statement thanking Hillary for her support: “I honor her today for the valiant and historic campaign she has run. She shattered barriers on behalf of my daughters and women everywhere, who now know that there are no limits to their dreams.” But Clinton donor Deborah Larkin tells The Times “It’s going to take more than … saying that Hillary has made great strides and that will help his children.”  

Some of Hillary’s supporters want Obama to put her on the ticket, warning that “Hillary is not interchangeable,” as Alida Black put it, adding that she won’t be appeased by another woman being selected for the Number Two spot.  

However, the veep spot isn’t good enough for women like Ubaldo and Christian. Here’s how Christian answers (video link) Neil Cavuto when he asks whether Obama will lose to McCain (“Absolutely”); whether Obama is qualified (“If he were a white man … he would have never jumped into the race with the inexperience that he has.”); whether she is concerned about McCain’s Supreme Court picks (“You have justices … there now who don’t uphold many of the things I believe in who are not appointed by Republicans.”); and whether she feels more comfortable with McCain running the country (“Absolutely.”).

As for a “dream team” ticket, Christian makes it clear to Cavuto that she would vote for the ticket only if Obama was her veep, “because Hillary would be running the country, not Obama.” Otherwise, she’s sticking with McCain.

 By the way: In one of his typically thoughtful and erudite articles, “When Disadvantages Collide,” the WaPo’s Shankar Vedantam writes:  

In the Democratic nomination battle, black women have found themselves in a … bind. Whether you are talking about Obama supporters such as Oprah Winfrey, or Clinton supporters such as Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) … black women are accused of treachery: Clinton supporters are accused of being race traitors and Obama supporters are accused of being traitors to their sex. 

Well, The Stiletto is a woman and a Republican – which puts her in a bind as well (not that anyone in the MSM seems to notice or care). As a feminist, The Stiletto would have liked the option of electing a woman president. As a Republican, she would have voted against Hillary because of her policy positions. Still, she is deeply disappointed that she will not be able to step into the voting booth and see Hillary’s name there.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog, chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards (the Oscars of the online universe) along with CNN Political Ticker, Swampland (Time magazine) and The Caucus (The New York Times).

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