Clinton campaigns hard in Mt. Rushmore state

Monday, June 2nd 2008, 2:44 pm
By: News 9

Samantha Hayes, in Rapid City, South Dakota

June 2, 2008

     I haven't seen Mount Rushmore yet, but the man working at the counter this morning at Walgreen's has already prepared me.

"Its smaller than you might think," he said with a smile. "You see all those pictures of the faces up close, and in person, its still really amazing, but small."  It's true that up until now, I've only seen the famous monument in pictures. 

     Both Democratic candidates have visited Mt. Rushmore recently, and sort of answered those obligatory questions about whether they can see their own faces carved in stone next to Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lincoln.  Obama said he thought his ears were too big.

     Of course, Mt. Rushmore is the big tourist attraction in the area.  I find it interesting that this famous monument is located in a state that with the exception of being the birthplace of Tom Daschle, the former Senate Majority leader, doesn't often consider itself to be politically influential on the national stage.  And even though it's been getting a lot of attention from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama,  many people across the country and South Dakota believe the nomination is sure to be in the hands of Barack Obama by the end of the week, regardless of what voters here decide.

     Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton has been campaigning hard in the state.  Late last night, I caught one of her new TV ads that claims she has "won more votes than anyone in the history of the Democratic primaries."  Well, as it turns out, that depends on how you add, and her claim is being disputed.

     Clinton celebrated a big victory in Puerto Rico last night, but that may have been her last. Obama seems to have more support in the last two contests in South Dakota and Montana tomorrow. But these two relatively sparsely populated states aren't expected to deliver enough pledged delegates for Obama to officially claim victory.  Just as expected, it looks like the nomination will be determined by superdelegates. And as Clinton pointed out Sunday, superdelegates can change their mind. And technically, they have until the convention in late August to decide.

     A fight on the convention floor has been raised as a possibility for months, but I don't know that anyone really thought it might happen. Of course, who could have said that the race for the Democratic nomination would go on this long, cost this much, or become so divisive.  So much for expectations.  Maybe Mt. Rushmore will look bigger than I expected.