Vermont Democrats say party should unite behind Obama soon

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(Host) Vermont members of the Democratic National Committee say it’s now pretty clear that Illinois Senator Barack Obama is going to be their party’s presidential nominee.

They hope the campaign between Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton can end on a positive note. They want Democrats to unite for the fall campaign against Republican nominee John McCain.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports

(Kinzel) For the past few months, super delegate Billi Gosh has been upbeat about Senator Clinton’s chances to win the Democratic presidential nomination. But following the results of the North Carolina and Indiana primaries, Gosh’s optimism is beginning to fade.

Gosh is the only Vermont super delegate who’s supporting Clinton. She hopes Clinton stays in the race until the last primaries are held at the beginning of June.

(Gosh) “At that point she will have probably made her decision. She’ll talk to her major advisors, she’ll see what’s happening in the fund raising field because all this impacts how much money you can raise to go on. And there will probably be some discussions with the Obama campaign."

(Kinzel) Gosh admits it will be very difficult for Clinton to win more delegates or receive more popular votes than Obama. She thinks these are the most important factors for uncommitted super delegates to consider in the weeks ahead.

(Gosh) “You still have the fact that probably the majority of voters will have voted for Obama and he will have a majority of the delegates and that really, I think, needs to be honored."

(Kinzel) Chuck Ross is a Vermont member of the Democratic National Committee and a super delegate backing Obama. He thinks this race is essentially over.

(Ross) “I feel quite confident now that things are in place. The votes have occurred to make an overwhelming case that Senator Obama is going to be the nominee for the Democrats."

(Kinzel) Ross says it’s critical for the Obama and Clinton campaigns to find a way to allow Senator Clinton to gracefully exit the presidential race so that a healing process can begin well before this summer’s national Convention.

(Ross) “It is important the Democrats have had a vigorous campaign to date largely about their primary. We need to shift gears and make this debate now about the general election."

(Kinzel) The next primary election will be held in West Virginia next Tuesday. At this time it’s a primary that Clinton is favored to win, but there aren’t a lot of delegates at stake.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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