Here’s a little history showing how the superdelegates Hillary Clinton had locked up at the beginning of 2008 did not “steal” the nomination for her, but instead switched to Obama when it was clear he was the choice of Democratic voters, just as would have happened this year if Bernie Sanders was ahead of Hillary in votes and pledged delegates.
Obama / Clinton (2008)
From New York Times, June 4, 2008
As many of you are all too painfully aware, the 2008 election brought the issue of superdelegates back into the mainstream. Still, when Obama made the magic number, the papers did not hedge. With a combination of supers and pledged delegates putting him just over the number he needed, Obama was considered the nominee as of June 3rd, 2008. It is also the case that on June 3rd it was a “last minute rush of superdelegates” that put him over that year’s magic number of 2,118.
Senator Barack Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday evening, prevailing through an epic battle with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in a primary campaign that inspired millions of voters from every corner of America to demand change in Washington.
A last-minute rush of Democratic superdelegates, as well as the results from the final primaries, in Montana and South Dakota, pushed Mr. Obama over the threshold of winning the 2,118 delegates needed to be nominated at the party’s convention in August. The victory for Mr. Obama, the son of a black Kenyan father and a white Kansan mother, broke racial barriers and represented a remarkable rise for a man who just four years ago served in the Illinois Senate. (Source)
Wolf Blitzer broke into a McCain speech to say that Obama had secured the nomination. Note that Obama wins the nomination, incidentally, in part by losing South Dakota. Based on him even placing in that contest it was projected that he would get at least four delegates and win.
Clinton would drop out of the race just three days later.
Again, this is history that almost everyone here knows, but the convention’s confirmation of that nomination would come in a dramatic (even if completely orchestrated) fashion. The final delegate totals had been known for some time to be 2,285 (Obama) to 1,973 (Clinton). As the convention roll call went through the states, they came to New York to ask what their votes were. Although the roll call votes had not nominated Obama yet, Hillary Clinton called for a suspension of regular rules and moved that in the spirit of unity Barack Obama be nominated by acclamation.
I’ll show my biases here. I was a Clinton-hater in 2008. I was a newly minted party Democrat in 2004, and Clinton to me was everything wrong with the party. I actually co-ran an influential state online community, Blue Hampshire, and the Clinton staff hated us. We were mean, they said. Hateful, even. I supported Dodd, then Edwards (ick), then, grudgingly, Obama. Anyone but Clinton. The Clinton people were a joke.
But when I watched this play out live back then, with it’s bizarre mix of the heartbreaking and the heartwarming, I cried. Like a baby. I think I could see the pain of watching the dream she had pursued for so long slip away. But on top of it is this pride in her party, which is less than 120 seconds away from voting in the first African-American candidate for the Presidency, with a good chance of taking back the White House.
Was it completely scripted? Yeah, the actions were. The feelings, however, were real. Mine, Clinton’s, the party’s. Chuckie Schumer’s. Everybody’s.
In 2008, I was Anyone But Clinton, but in the end, it was she who taught me what it meant to be a Democrat.