Hillary: caucus delegates not "elected"
In an interview with Newsweek, Hillary Clinton trots out a new bit of spin, offhandedly asserting that there are three types of delegates: "elected delegates, caucus delegates and superdelegates."
Unpacking that statement, I notice two things. Firstly, what happened to calling superdelegates "automatic delegates"? I guess that bit of Clinton spin has officially bitten the dust -- replaced with the equally silly notion that only delegates allocated by primaries are "elected," while delegates allocated by caucuses are not. That one doesn't pass the laugh test, but terminology aside, I think the Clinton campaign might be on to something here.
I assume the campaign's ultimate goal is to encourage the media to delineate the primary and caucus delegates in separate counts. Regardless of its merits or lack thereof (an arguable point, IMHO), I think this tack just might work. The Obama campaign had considerable success in arguing early last month that the media should stop conflating the pledged-delegate and superdelegate counts, and in light of her recent success "working the refs," I think Clinton may now be able to convince the media that a tripartite count is appropriate.
If she can accomplish that, she will then presumably try to argue that she is a legitimate option for the nomination if she's ahead, or within striking distance, among the primary (or "elected") delegates by the end of the primaries in June. I haven't done the math on it, but I imagine that's a much more realistic goal than coming within striking distance in the overall pledged-delegate count, and possibly even more realistic than winning the "popular vote."
(I hasten to add that, whatever the merits of a tripartite delegate count, a legitimacy argument based solely on primary delegates would be totally, well, illegitimate. It's one thing to argue that primaries and caucuses are different and should be treated as such, and that primaries should matter more. It's another thing to completely ignore the caucuses altogether, thus effectively disenfranchising all the voters in those states.)
Less likely to work, IMHO, is Clinton's attempt to re-raise an argument that her campaign floated and then quickly rejected last month: "Even elected and caucus delegates are not required to stay with whomever they are pledged to." If she starts making a public effort to "poach" pledged delegates, I think there will be a massive backlash.
One last point: her statement that "[t]his is a very carefully constructed process that goes back years, and we're going to follow the process" could very well come back to haunt her, if anyone remembers it (not that blatantly self-contradictory comments have stopped her before). Several of her spin tactics -- including the denigration of caucuses -- are in direct opposition to the notion of respecting this "very carefully constructed process that goes back years."
In other news, the New York Times Caucus Blog has the latest on Michigan and Florida. A pair of "do-overs" appear increasingly likely.