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BREAKING NEWS: Dean, Pelosi, Reid set Friday deadline for superdelegates' choices, move to force end to Clinton bid

June 4, 2008 |  3:52 am

With the final primary concluded barely hours before, top Democratic Party leaders in Washington early this morning ratcheted up the pressure to force all remaining uncommitted superdelegates to make their choice of candidate known by Friday -- and thus end the now hopeless, onetime front-running campaign of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is among top party leaders setting a Friday deadline for superdelegates to endorse Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama

The joint statement was obviously pre-planned and timed for issue shortly after Clinton refused to concede the presidential nomination victory to Barack Obama, who's gained sufficient delegates to clinch the party's nomination.

Howard Dean, right, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, chairman of the Democratic Governors Assn., issued the brief statement for unity just minutes ago:

"The voters have spoken," they said, adding later, "Democrats must now turn our full attention to the general election. To that end, we are urging all remaining uncommitted superdelegates to make their decisions known by Friday of this week, so that our party can stand united."

The carefully worded statement, which does not urge the superdelegates to go one way or the other, is a clear step to force an end to the effort by Clinton, who said Tuesday she would take a few days to consider her options and protect the voices of the nearly 18 million voters who cast ballots for her in recent months. Her hand is now being forced by the Friday deadline.

The move is also a sly one politically, since it leaves Obama free of any appearance of forcing Clinton to quit and thus alienating her millions of supporters, whom the Illinois senator will badly need in the general election come Nov. 4.

In exit polls throughout the just-concluded primary season, an unusually high number of Clinton voters indicated they were likely to reject Obama and vote for the Republican Party's presumptive nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

A complete text of the Democratic Party leaders' joint statement is available by clicking the "read more" line below.

--Andrew Malcolm

Photo Credit: Associated Press / Manuel Bolce Ceneta

     Joint Statement by Democratic Leaders on the End of the Presidential Primary Process

"We have come to the end of an exciting primary and caucus process -- the voters have spoken.  As the Democratic leaders of the Senate, House of Representatives, the Governors and the Democratic National Committee we commend all of the participants of the 2008 primary process, especially Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, for making this such a transformational election. 

"Because of the enthusiasm our candidates have inspired, our party has brought record numbers of voters to the polls, gained millions of newly registered Democrats and now has advantages in states many thought were difficult to win.  We are grateful to the millions of Independents and Republicans who have crossed over to vote for a Democratic candidate for President.

"Democrats must now turn our full attention to the general election.  To that end, we are urging all remaining uncommitted superdelegates to make their decisions known by Friday of this week so that our party can stand united and begin our march toward reversing the eight years of failed Bush/McCain policies that have weakened our country.

"We once again congratulate all of the candidates for their leadership and dedication to providing this country with a New Direction. We look forward to working with them and with all Democrats to win the White House, congressional seats and state capitals so we can deliver the change the American people deserve and demand."

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