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The Nation

Obama's Super Tuesday

John Nichols

"It's time," said U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, the senior Democratic workhorse from Wisconsin who had resisted making an endorsement in the race for the party's presidential nomination out of a desire to maintain productive relations with colleagues Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Kohl, after more than a few consultations with Obama, will announce his position this week -- perhaps even today.

The same goes for a dozens of other Democratic National Convention super-delegates who during the course of the final day of the party's long primary season will endorse the senator from Illinois.

The Obama campaign, which has been accused of not being able to "close the deal" in the race for the nomination, is orchestrating a massive push to do just that on what they hope will be their real "Super Tuesday."

With rival Hillary Clinton preparing to deliver "a major speech" not in the primary state of South Dakota -- where she still hopes to win a symbolic victory today -- but in New York, and with Clinton aides being told to turn in their final expense reports before the end of the week, Obama's on the verge.

While some believe Clinton will quit tonight, others suggest that the New York senator's speech will be more of a valedictory address -- with an actual suspension of candidacy and endorsement of Obama coming as early as Wednesday.

Obama will be in New York Wednesday night to headline a small fund-raising event for the Democratic National Committee. He and Clinton are also expected to be in Washington at the same time earlier in the day.

The Obama camp does not want it to appear that anything is being given to the candidate, however. They want him to be holding the nomination in his hands by the time he speaks tonight in the swing state of Minnesota, at what is expected to be a huge rally in St. Paul.

So his campaign hopes to dot every "i" and cross every "t" today.


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After he collects the delegates he is expected to secure from Montana and South Dakota, Obama will need in the range of 25 more to go over the 2,118 number needed to be nominated.

He'll get many if not all of them from members of Congress.

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is expected to lead a crew of uncommitted senators -- probably including Colorado's Ken Salazar, Delaware's Tom Carper and Maryland's Ben Cardin -- into the Obama fold.

South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, a member of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's leadership team, announced for Obama this morning. And Clyburn could be joined during the day by any of a number of other uncommitted House members, including Californians Sam Farr and Bob Filner, Massachusett's Ed Markey, John Olver and John Tierney, Michigan's Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, New Jersey's Rush Holt and Ohio's Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich.

Even Obama, ever cautious about such things, said Monday night that before the end of Tuesday "we've got a good chance of getting the number we need to win the nomination."

For his part, Obama is more than ready to turn the page and begin the next chapter of the tale of 2008.

"I emphasize that tomorrow is the last of the contests and the sooner that we bring the party together," the senator says. "The sooner we can begin focusing on beating John McCain."

John Nichols' new book is The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use of the 'heroic medicine' that is impeachment with a call for Democratic leaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by the founders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"

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