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Strategists: Race Is Over, But Obama Needs Clinton

Now that the Democratic presidential nominating contests are over, Barack Obama says he is the presumptive nominee. Hillary Clinton has not pulled out of the race, but Democratic strategist Mark Mellman says "there's no doubt the race is over at this point."

"Our candidate gets nominated by delegates at a convention. Sen. Obama has a majority of the delegates committed to him at this point. He's likely to get more in the coming days. I think even Sen. Clinton recognizes the race is over," Mellman tells host Renee Montagne.

It's only natural that she wants some time to talk to her supporters and gather her thoughts before conceding, he says, but in the coming days, she'll come together with Obama. "The race is definitively over."

But Clinton is going to try to get everything she can from the Obama campaign, says Republican strategist Tucker Eskew. He says Clinton is going to try to leverage her "relative success" in the primaries into debt retirement and a significant role in an Obama campaign, "and perhaps even beyond."

Obama hasn't proven that he has the ability to unite the party, Eskew tells Montagne, and Clinton's support could help.

"He's got a coalition that leans urban, younger and more ideologically liberal. He needs Sen. Clinton's coalition, which is quite different from his — more rural, more Catholic, more union and older voters. ... He's got to have a tough negotiation with someone he needs by his side," Eskew says.

Clinton has said she's open to being a vice presidential candidate, but Eskew says it'd be a weak ticket — because Obama's at the top of it.

"I believe he has proven that he's got a coalition that doesn't serve him well," Eskew says. "There are more McCain-ocrats, if you will, than there are Obama-cans. Obama-cans were the story line three months ago, and yet today, I think Newsweek's poll shows Sen. [John] McCain drawing two-and-a-half times as many Democrats as Sen. Obama does Rebublicans, and I don't think the shape of the ticket will affect that one way or the other."

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