This week’s Super Tuesday primary vote in 24 American states did not produce a US presidential nominee in either the Republican or Democratic party. But three clear frontrunners have emerged ahead of others still in the race. On the Republican side, Senator John McCain leads the field after winning nine states on Tuesday and accumulating more than half of the proportional representation in convention delegates needed to secure the nomination by next September. Senator McCain’s Republican challengers, former Governors Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, trail Senator McCain by several hundred delegates, but both have vowed to stay in the race.
The Democratic party contest is much tighter and more complicated, with two frontrunners so even in state and delegate counts after Tuesday that it’s still too difficult to call. Senator Barack Obama won more state primaries on Super Tuesday than Senator Hillary Clinton, but Senator Clinton continues to hold a slight edge in the number of committed delegates after having posted victories in the populous states of California, New York, and Massachusetts.
Former US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa in President Bill Clinton’s administration, Susan Rice, is an Obama supporter, adviser, and campaigner in this election year. She says Senator Obama’s success on Super Tuesday keeps him very much in the running.
“Senator Obama is on a very positive trajectory. Electorally, he won more delegates than Senator Clinton did on Tuesday. He won more states than Senator Clinton did, and it is quite an extraordinary position for him to be in,” she said.
Ms. Rice, who is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow on leave from Washington's Brookings Institution, refutes the notion that Senators Clinton and Obama take similar positions on most political issues and says there is a lot of room for discerning voters to make a choice.
“I think their differences are significant, both on policy and in terms of their character and orientation. I was privileged to serve President (Bill) Clinton for eight years in the White House and the State Department, and I have considerable respect and admiration for President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton. But I am for Barack Obama at this point because I think he is precisely the sort of leader that the United States needs at this point. We need somebody who is focused on the future, who can bring our country together, who won’t be sidelined or trapped in the divisive politics of the past,” Rice reasons.
As for upcoming state primaries this month and next, Susan Rice expects the political momentum to keep building for her candidate because his message of hope and idealism appeal and rejuvenate voter enthusiasm, not only among African-Americans and young voters, but also tap into a large number of voters once believed to be behind Senator Clinton.
“What is dramatically clear is that the more the public and the American voters see of Barack Obama, the stronger his performance is at the polls. He has closed an extraordinary 30 point gap in the national polls. When all the votes from Tuesday are counted, you will see that Senator Obama and Senator Clinton got virtually the same number of votes. He is appealing to Americans’ desire to put division and discord behind us,” said Rice.
Named to Obama’s campaign team of national foreign policy experts before the current primary election season, former State Department official Rice notes that one of the great strengths of an Obama presidency would be his ability to win respect and new friends for America around the globe.
“Barack Obama is a man who has roots in many different quarters of the world, as well as obviously here in the United States. He has a judgment and a temperament that enable him to see the danger and the folly of the war in Iraq from the start, enabled him to call timeout when the hawks in Washington were beating the drums for war with Iran. He has a sensitivity and a sensibility about America’s relationship with the rest of the world that I think is very badly needed. He recognizes that America’s security and well-being is inextricably linked to the security and well-being of people in Africa, in Asia, and Latin America and every other part of the world,” says Rice.