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Gary Younge
Will Clinton support Obama?

As Hillary Clinton leaves the spotlight this evening, the central issue is how large an impression her teeth marks will leave on it. It would be easier to be more adulatory and enthusiastic about this signature moment - a white woman who came so close endorsing the black man who won and between them created unprecedented enthusiasm for the Democratic party - if she had not used the convention like one more bargaining chip to satisfy her damaged ego.

The roll call, the personal video, the sulking husband, (I'm assuming the buy-one-get-one-free thing works even though they've lost) - in short the whole cathartic shtick they extracted in a manner that would do Veruca Salt proud.

And for what? For all the talk of their relationship being the axis around which the convention will turn, she really has precious little leverage.

Her argument, through the primaries, was that she could win groups he couldn't. This, it has transpired, is simply not true.

According to Pollster.com, Obama is has a commanding lead in Pennsylvania and Michigan and is in a virtual dead heat in Ohio and Florida and New Hampshire. He is also winning in Iowa and New Mexico and is competitive in Alaska, Montana, Colorado, North Dakota and Nevada. We don't know how well she would be doing had she been the nominee, but it is unlikely she would be faring much better.

They claimed he would never win women. Pew surveys show him with a double-digit lead - better than John Kerry or Al Gore could ever achieve.

They claimed he would couldn't win Latinos. Yet he's beating McCain among that group by a whopping 43 points.

They said he couldn't win white working-class votes. Yet he's beating McCain among poor white voters by 10 points.

Among the delegates pledged to her, only 6% of women and 4% of men say they will not support Obama.

Meanwhile, as many predicted at the time, her attacks on Obama have proved very useful literally as Republican talking points - used in ads and McCain's town hall meetings.The sad truth about these Puma ("party unity my ass") types is that they are such a miniscule group they represent neither women, nor Democrats, nor even Hillary supporters. McCain has just started screening ads of Debra Bartoshevich, who was a Hillary delegate until Obama won. Now she's supporting McCain.

There are many reasons why people might not support Obama. But there is only one I can think of that would explain why someone would switch their vote from Clinton to McCain. And that is race.

You go Debra. And take your fertility rights, the Iraqi dead and your foreclosed neighbourhood with you. At this stage it seems like the number of voters that will follow are negligible.

So Clinton really doesn't have a whole lot to bargain with, apart from the threat of disruption. She knows this should be her coronation, but this empress is wearing no clothes. All she is left with is a handful of bitter-enders determined to do just that, whom she has been happy to hide behind in order to make her threats while she pretends to reign them in.

Clinton's speech tonight will in all likelihood be as gracious as she can possibly manage. She may not have a strong hand, but for the time being she is still playing with a full deck.

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