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Democrats Attempt to Predict How Obama-Clinton Race Will End

Democratic Party presidential contender Hillary Clinton shows no signs of abandoning her bid for the White House, even though most political experts believe rival Barack Obama is now clearly on track to become the party's presidential nominee. Exactly how the long and bitter Democratic presidential battle is resolved is an issue of concern for many Democrats, as we hear from VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone in Washington.

As she campaigns in the final three weeks of primaries Hillary Clinton has made it clear she is not giving up, despite Barack Obama's lead in the all important delegate count.

"I guess my favorite message was from a woman named Angela," Clinton said. "Keep strong, she said, it is not over until the lady in the pantsuit says it is."

Clinton believes strong showings in several of the six remaining primaries will keep her in contention, even though more Democratic superdelegates are announcing their support for Obama than Clinton.

Superdelegates are Democratic officeholders and party activists free to support either of the contenders at the national nominating convention in Denver in late August.

Obama has been careful not to try to force Clinton from the race, as in this interview with NBC television.

"I want to respect her and her desire to continue in these coming contests," Obama said, "and as soon as I know that I am the nominee, then I am going to start making overtures, certainly to her as well as everybody else to figure out how we are going to bring this party together."

Even if Clinton does well in some of the remaining primaries, political experts believe it is only a matter of time before Obama secures the nomination.

Norman Ornstein is a political scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

"I think the most likely outcome here is that Senator Clinton will stay in this race through the final primaries and caucuses, it ends on June the third," Ornstein said. "And probably on June the fourth it is formally over. It is possible it could end earlier than that, but more than likely there will be a kind of tacit understanding that we will go on until the final contest. That still gives them almost two months (before the convention) to heal the wounds."

Some prominent Democrats worry that Clinton's decision to fight to the end could hurt Obama, especially if she repeats some of the sharp rhetoric as she campaigns in the remaining contests.

Former senator and Democratic presidential contender John Edwards spoke on the CBS program Face the Nation.

"She has to be careful about going forward and as she makes the case for herself, which she is completely entitled to do, she has to be really careful that she is not damaging our prospects, for the Democratic Party and our cause, for the fall (campaign)," Edwards said.

That view is shared by political commentator Morton Kondracke, the executive editor of Roll Call, a newspaper that covers the U.S. Congress.

"I think that Hillary Clinton has to be more careful about what she says if she wants to unite the party and not be seen as a divisive influence," Krondracke said. "The precedent for this is Mike Huckabee's behavior in the Republican primaries where he basically campaigned with positive messages about himself, but never attacked John McCain. That would be a good thing for her to do. I think there is a school of thought in her campaign that she could still win this and that fighting to the last ditch would be advisable. I think wiser heads will prevail and realize she cannot do it."

It is possible Clinton could abandon her campaign before the primaries end on June 3rd if she concludes there is no possibility of winning the nomination.

Most analysts expect the final act in the long-running Democratic nomination drama to come in June when the remaining uncommitted superdelegates will likely throw their support behind Obama.

Bill Beaman is editor of Politics magazine, formerly known as Campaigns and Elections.

"She certainly has the right to stay in the race," Beaman said. "She has won enough places. So I think that what will happen is in June the party elders, so to speak, will force the issue. Superdelegates will get the clear message that OK, enough is enough, this fighting is handing John McCain and the Republican Party a huge gift."

Obama has already shifted his sights away from Clinton to the presumptive Republican Party nominee, Senator John McCain. The McCain campaign has generally focused on Senator Obama in recent weeks and has largely ignored Senator Clinton.