Choosing the lesser of two evils

Ann Coulter says she’d rather vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton than John McCain. Rush Limbaugh has suggested he’d rather see the Democrats take the White House than a McCain win. James Dobson said he’d stay home rather than cast a vote in a contest between McCain and any opponent.

Such threats aren’t confined to the GOP. Michelle Obama — Barack’s wife — said she would “have to think” about supporting the Democratic ticket if Clinton wins the party’s nomination.

What’s happening to party unity? Should voters stay home rather than support the lesser of two evils?

Barack Obama’s great ethnic divide

For Barack Obama, California’s early presidential primary was too early. He ran out of time before he could make inroads with women and non-black minorities, who have been the base of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s support nationally and helped her win here Tuesday.

Exit polls conducted for the Associated Press and the national television networks show that Clinton built a huge lead among people who chose their candidate early in the campaign, but the decision was a toss-up among voters who made up their minds in the final three days before the election.

Romney suspends campaign, clears way for McCain

John McCain effectively sealed the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday as chief rival Mitt Romney suspended his faltering presidential campaign. “I must now stand aside, for our party and our country,” Romney prepared to tell conservatives.

“If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror,” Romney will say at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.

Clinton low on cash, time

Democratic Presidential wannabe Hillary Rodham Clinton’s "inevitable" march to the nomination is mired in a financial, electoral and morale swamp.

With bills and salaries going unpaid, Clinton admitted Wednesday she wrote out a $5 million check from her personal funds to cover some expenses and go forward in her neck-and-neck contest with the surging Barack Obama but the loan won’t be enough to bail out the financially-strapped campaign.

Many staffers will work without pay this month and Capitol Hill Blue has learned that many vendors are demanding cash up front because of the campaign’s overdue bills.

"For all practical purposes, we’re broke," a campaign staffer admits.

McCain widens delegate lead

Sen. John McCain padded his commanding delegate lead in the Republican presidential race Wednesday and urged conservative critics to cut him some slack. In a Democratic surprise, Hillary Rodham Clinton disclosed she’d lent $5 million to her cash-short campaign.

“And I think the results last night proved the wisdom of my investment,” said the former first lady, one day after trading victories with Barack Obama in a Super Tuesday string of contests from coast to coast.

The competition for Republican delegates was a runaway.

Conservatives set for nervous breakdown?

I’m reminded of the story about the young nun who asked the Mother Superior if it was all right to smoke a cigarette while praying. The Mother Superior erupted in anger at the very idea. Meekly, the nun posed a second question: “Is it all right to pray while smoking a cigarette?” That, the Mother Superior responded, is not just all right, it is commendable.

Is Obama’s ‘phenom’ phase over?

Some observations coming out of Super Tuesday:

The “phenom” phase of Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign may be ending. The shine may be starting to deflect off the star. Yes, it’s still a tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination between the junior senator from Illinois and the junior senator from New York. But up to this point Obama has had the distinct advantage (and disadvantage) of being less well-known. That era will soon be behind him.

McCain, Clinton hold delegate leads

Sen. John McCain jumped to a commanding lead in the Republican delegate race over Mitt Romney on Super Tuesday. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton edged ahead of Sen. Barack Obama in the race for Democratic delegates.

McCain won 420 delegates to 130 for Romney and 99 for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in incomplete results. A total of 1,023 delegates were up for grabs in 21 states.

Overall, McCain led with 522 delegates, to 223 for Romney and 142 for Huckabee. It takes 1,191 to win the nomination at this summer’s convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Can anyone stop McCain?

John McCain’s string of cross-country victories made him all but unstoppable — and proved his appeal across a broad swath of the Republican Party.

The Arizona senator was racking up enough convention delegates in Super Tuesday’s coast-to-coast voting to put him within reach of the coveted GOP presidential nomination that eluded him eight years ago. Mitt Romney faced a decision of whether to stretch out the bruising race for another few weeks while Mike Huckabee competed for — and in some ways found — relevancy.

Democrats in race to the finish

Hillary Rodham Clinton captured needed states Tuesday night — including the brass ring of California — even as Barack Obama ate into her traditional base of support on a topsy-turvy night where ballot victories were not the only measure of success.

The grand spectacle of Super Tuesday’s coast-to-coast nominating contests marked a turning point in the Democratic presidential contest from euphoric election night victories to painstaking delegate counting. Consider it the beginning of a long hard slog.