Kaine and O'Malley Defend Their Bets

By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 11, 2008

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley squared off on national television yesterday against Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, with the two Democrats talking up their preferred candidates for president and offering different takes on the role of superdelegates.

Appearing on ABC News's "This Week," O'Malley touted New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's "experience and strength" and brushed off her losses in the Louisiana primary and the Washington and Nebraska caucuses Saturday.

"This has been a year of shifting momentum," O'Malley said. "This race is going to go the distance."

Kaine said he was impressed by "the incredible diversity of the states" Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) has won, suggesting that bodes well going into Tuesday's primaries in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

O'Malley was pressed by host George Stephanopoulos about the prospect of Obama winning more delegates in primaries and caucuses but losing the nomination to Clinton on the strength of superdelegates, the nearly 800 party insiders who also get a say at the convention. Obama has said he would consider such a scenario "problematic."

The Maryland governor defended the role of superdelegates, arguing that many of them are state and local elected officials whose views regarding the leader of the federal government should matter.

"Superdelegates are part of this mix," O'Malley said.

Kaine said he considered the scenario outlined by Stephanopoulos unlikely, suggesting instead that most superdelegates will migrate to "the people's choice" as nominating contests continue.

"At the end of the day, I don't think that it's going to be the superdelegates brokering the deal," Kaine said.

Kaine acknowledged some "sensitivity" among the African American community in Virginia over former president Bill Clinton's aggressive advocacy for his wife's campaign, but he predicted that it would not hamper Democratic chances in the general election, regardless of who is the nominee.

"Once we get to a nominee, we're going to see a unified Democratic Party," Kaine said.

On that, O'Malley agreed.

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