Nice Little Convention Vote You Got There…Wouldn’t Want Anything to Happen to It….

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I would really like to know what’s involved in “getting pledged delegates to switch sides.” Is it intimidation or just bribery?

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign intends to go after delegates whom Barack Obama has already won in the caucuses and primaries if she needs them to win the nomination. This strategy was confirmed to me by a high-ranking Clinton official on Monday. And I am not talking about superdelegates, those 795 party big shots who are not pledged to anybody. I am talking about getting pledged delegates to switch sides.

Also telling:

Clinton spokesman Phil Singer told me Monday he assumes the Obama campaign is going after delegates pledged to Clinton, though a senior Obama aide told me he knew of no such strategy.

This assumption says a lot about Clinton’s “but-he’s-JUST-ANOTHER-POLITICIAN” strategy, namely, that the Clinton team knows just what kind of behavior being “just another politician” neccesitates. It’s hard to figure out whether their increasingly desperate acts of projection are a cry for help — or a flourish of self-hatred.

UPDATE: Though this ploy seems perfectly in keeping with every thing else we’ve heard from the Clinton camp, it’s worth noting that Simon’s scoop is not exactly the declaration of war it seems to be on first read: “a high-ranking Clinton official” said that Clinton would target pledged delegates “if she needs them.” Another (or the same?) official goes on to say that delegate poaching “is not happening now, but as we get closer to the convention, if it is a stalemate, everybody will be going after everybody’s delegates.” Unpacked, I think the news here isn’t that Clinton will go after pledged delegates, it’s that the Clinton teamassumes* one or two people on the Clinton campaign assume that there will be a nasty, delegate-by-delegate fight if she fails to gain the nomination via primary contests.

I have heard that there are elements in the Clinton camp that feel such talk is both damaging her chances in future (legitimate) contests (which, remember, she still can win), and setting up the ugly scenario that has activists worried already, possibly damaging the party for years to come. These forces in the Clinton campaign recognize the essential timidity of super delegates (talk about being “just” politicians!) that will make poaching incredibly difficult and they worry about the legacy for those involved such shenanigans: Who wants to become known as the Katherine Harris of the Democrats?

I think the Hillary message machine is broken; but I suspect there are still adults in the room.

*Caught myself. The whole point of this update was to dial back how much we can really tell about what’s going on in Hillaryland from reading Simon’s piece. Sorry.