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Do Texas Republicans plan a surprise for Clinton and Obama?

March 1, 2008 | 10:28 am

Actually, we heard rumors about this a few days ago. But now the Dallas Morning News has found some.

Senator Hillary Clinton Democratic candidate for president on the Texas primary ballot They are tricky Texas Republicans. They have a choice in Tuesday's presidential primary election between Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who seems to have pretty much wrapped up his party's nomination with about a 700-delegate lead over former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas.

So if there's no real point in confirming McCain or throwing it away on Huckabee, is there anything else to do besides stay home? Yup. Go vote in the Democratic primary.

It's no big deal paperwise to switch over for a year or two. And this way -- wait for it -- these Republicans could vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton. Yes, that one.

Now, why would Republicans cast a ballot for a woman they've loved to hate for oh so long? The point would be to give her ...

... a Lone Star victory over Sen. Barack Obama and prolong the increasingly bitter Democratic struggle until, say, at least late April's primary in Pennsylvania. Or potentially even until the August convention in Denver.

That not only gives McCain more essentially uncontested pre-convention time to unify a GOP with a doubting wing of conservatives. It also reduces that low-key run-up time for a Democratic nominee by some six weeks and maybe boosts the lingering hard feelings among Democrats on the eventual losing side. Polls also indicate McCain doing better against Clinton come fall than against Obama.

It's not that easy to get sufficient hard-core partisans of either party to break their usual habit and switch over to join, say, the Democrats for a day in sufficient numbers to affect the outcome of the election.

But there's been some publicity about it now. "Don't do it!" pleads a news release from Chris Peden, a city councilman challenging Rep. Ron Paul in the 14th District's GOP primary. Peden needs all the Republican votes he can get to unseat Paul, who's simultaneously still running for the Republican presidential nomination as well.

But advance voting has been under way awhile in Texas. You won't likely hear Clinton make any overt appeals to Republicans, although she didn't need to in order to already get the early vote of loyal Republican Ryan Murphy.

"The optimal outcome," said the college student, would be "to create more tension on the Democrat side and hopefully push it to the convention."

On the other hand, given Clinton's slide in the polls and the precariousness of her political position if she loses both Texas and Ohio on the same day, you probably won't see her getting all picky and turning away any votes that come her way.

In a political season that has produced more than its share of surprises, wouldn't that be something to have loyal Republicans help push Hillary Clinton to her party's nomination? What an amazing campaign!

-- Andrew Malcolm