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Bill Richardson lays out an endgame

March 2, 2008 |  2:39 pm

Did Bill Richardson move ever so slightly toward Barack Obama's corner today?

For a split second, during his appearance on the CBS talk show "Face the Nation," it sounded like he did. But then he added a clause that muddied the waters (as he so often did as a candidate himself for the Democratic presidential nomination, when he struggled in the early debates by often giving answers that were hard to decipher).

Richardson, during his chat this morning with newsman Bob Schieffer, characterized Tuesday's face-offs in Ohio and Texas between Obama and Hillary Clinton as "D-Day."

Expressing concern, like an increasing number of leading Democrats of late, that an extended Obama-Clinton battle could start tearing the party apart, he added: "We have to have a positive campaign after Tuesday. Whoever has the most delegates after Tuesday, a clear lead, should be, in my judgment, the nominee."

Clinton may well win in both Ohio and Texas but, based on the way delegates are allotted, her margins may not be large enough to overtake Obama in the overall delegate count. So was Richardson, who remains uncommitted in the race, saying she still should drop out?

The catch, of course, was his caveat about one of the candidates claiming "a clear lead." That will be in the eye of the beholder (and subject to all manner of spinning by the two campaigns).

Here is the latest...

...delegate tally by various news organizations, conscientiously compiled by Time magazine's The Page:

ABC — Obama 1,380, Clinton 1,276
AP — Obama 1,373, Clinton 1,277
CBS — Obama 1,373, Clinton 1,265
CNN — Obama 1,369, Clinton 1,267
MSNBC — Obama 1,194, Clinton 1,037 (does not include superdelegates, who are named by party leaders, rather than selected through the primary/caucus process)

Richardson may have left us confused about his criteria for determining whether someone should call it quits Wednesday morning, but he was clear about this:

"I think after Tuesday, we as a party nationally — voters, leaders — have got to see whether it makes sense to continue a very divisive primary between now and Pennsylvania, and then the convention."

— Don Frederick