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1980, Here We Come!

The nightmare scenario I recently laid out becomes several ticks more likely. See the front page of today's Washington Post:

NEW ALBANY, Ind., March 29 -- In her most definitive comments to date on the subject, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton sought Saturday to put to rest any notion that she will drop out of the presidential race, pledging in an interview to not only compete in all the remaining primaries but also continue until there is a resolution of the disqualified results in Florida and Michigan.

A day after Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean urged the candidates to end the race by July 1, Clinton defied that call by declaring that she will take her campaign all the way to the Aug. 25-28 convention if necessary, potentially setting up the prolonged and divisive contest that party leaders are increasingly anxious to avoid.

"I know there are some people who want to shut this down and I think they are wrong," Clinton said in an interview during a campaign stop here Saturday. "I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started and until we see what happens in the next 10 contests and until we resolve Florida and Michigan. And if we don't resolve it, we'll resolve it at the convention -- that's what credentials committees are for.

"We cannot go forward until Florida and Michigan are taken care of, otherwise the eventual nominee will not have the legitimacy that I think will haunt us," said the senator from New York. "I can imagine the ads the Republican Party and John McCain will run if we don't figure out how we can count the votes in Michigan and Florida."

I suspect this is just tough talk designed to end calls for Hillary to quit the race, and to give the campaign leverage in negotiations over Florida and Michigan. But, as in military-style brinkmanship, events could spiral out of control. (Hillary's supporters get riled up, the other side makes some provocative comments in response, etc.) And so it's hardly encouraging that we're now semi-seriously talking about resolving this at the convention.

--Noam Scheiber