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Endorsements Signal End for Clinton

John Edwards' endorsement overshadowed that of NARAL. The combination of the two means the end of Clinton's run.

The media has circled around Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D., N.Y.) campaign like vultures, constantly monitoring it to see if it's dead. Clinton has defiantly argued that voters, not pundits, decide elections.

But the voters might not decide after all. Two major endorsements -- John Edwards and

NARAL Pro-Choice America

-- have hurt Clinton badly in the last two days and effectively ended her chance to win the Democratic nomination.

The endorsements come at a poor time for Clinton. She should be riding high after a blowout victory in W. Virginia and building momentum for next Tuesday's contests in Kentucky and Oregon. Instead, her victory lap has been halted, and now she faces strong challenges to her bases of strength in the electorate.

Edwards ran on the issue of poverty and economic justice. Significant amounts of his support came from white-working class voters who saw him as a champion for their causes. Of course, Edwards found out one cannot survive on one group's vote alone. He suspended his race after a poor showing in South Carolina. But his name appeared on the ballot in W. Virginia, and he received close to 7% of the vote.

Since Edwards stepped down, Clinton has increasingly appealed to that constituency. Like her husband Bill in 1992, when the chips were down she turned to a more populist message. She offered solutions to voters to help with hard times. When she offered a gas tax holiday, it helped ensure she would be out front on sympathy for those feeling the forces of a flailing economy.

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So Edwards' decision hurt, but it was probably not as personal as the loss of NARAL Pro-Choice America. NARAL leads the fight to advocate on the behalf of women and their right to choose what to do with their body. They claim to have over a million members, and I would guess that the vast majority of them would be women.

Women have been the backbone of Clinton's campaign. Every time her back has been to the wall -- New Hampshire, Super Tuesday, Ohio and Texas -- women have voted in big numbers to support her. Women, of course, make up the majority of the electorate.

In response to the NARAL endorsement of Obama, the Clinton campaign held a press conference Wednesday night. It included members of Congress who touted Clinton's long record of fighting for a woman's right to choose, including her leading the fight on Plan B or the "morning after pill." The FDA had held up approval of the pill.

NARAL had remained neutral for a long time. But the organization proves to offer critical cache for candidates. Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL, explained the endorsement on the

"I believe Sen. Obama is going to be the Democratic nominee. He leads in pledged delegates, superdelegates, the popular vote, and cash-on-hand. As a former elected official, I know that having the three "m's" of a campaign -- money, message and manpower (or womanpower!) -- are how we win elections. Sen. Obama will be our next president."

Keenan's words will ring loudly with superdelegates.

Despite this devastation, Clinton plans to continue for a few more weeks. She has made it a mission of her campaign over the last few months to get the election results in Florida and Michigan to count. The Democratic National Committee will make a decision on the future of those delegates on May 31.

Obama may want to consider making his peace with Clinton as quickly as possible. He will need her help to mend fences with women and voters in Florida.