WASHINGTON (CNN) - Congressional Democrats settled in Wednesday for an extended fight to the presidential nomination after Tuesday's primaries failed to produce a clear frontrunner, while at least one Democratic leader urged party officials to let the electoral process take its course.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said now is not the time for party officials to wade into the fight over the Democratic presidential nomination.
"I think the electoral process has to work its way," she told reporters. "There are still many voters unheard from yet, and I think that our candidates both have the capacity to inspire, to bring out a big vote that will hold us in good stead in November, and I think that now is not the time for anybody to weigh in."
Many party officials are superdelegates, but Pelosi aides said that the speaker was cautioning party officials against pushing for a quick end to the nomination process rather than warning any who are superdelegates not to commit to a candidate.
Pelosi said she is confident the nominee will be decided before the Democratic convention in August.
She said she was "never among those who believed this would be resolved by now," and argued that the prolonged campaign is good for the party, offering Democrats a chance to "make a clear distinction" about their differences with Republicans on a range of issues.
She pointed to Iraq, noting the Democratic candidates are talking about "responsible redeployment versus a 100-year-war that Senator McCain has spoken about."
She was referring to McCain's comment that even after fighting ends, U.S. troops might remain in Iraq for up to 100 years, just as U.S. troops have remained in South Korea for more than half a century after the fighting there stopped.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., also hammered McCain on Iraq, saying, "Under President Bush and with John McCain's support, America's economy has been hijacked by Iraq and our investment there."
Democratic senators joined Pelosi in appearing confident the party will unite behind the eventual nominee and being largely unconcerned about the prospects of a lengthy battle.
"I don't think it's a bad thing," said Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., a former candidate who said the race is "far from over."
"At the end of the day we will unite to prevent another Republican from making it in the White House," he said.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., agreed. "Most of us think that (Sen. John) McCain is nothing but a third term for (President) Bush," he said. "That in of itself should unite the party."
Other Senate Democrats said that so long as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama don't turn too negative against each other, the extended campaign could help whoever wins the nomination.
"We know the (Republican) attack machine is going to go after them in the general election. So to have the strongest candidate battle-tested is a good thing," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a Clinton supporter. "Obviously we don't want the fighting to get too sharp-edged, but so far so good."
Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., an Obama supporter, said a lot of people are "wringing their hands" like Hamlet. But he called that "premature."
"Competition is good," he said. "All the media attention, until whatever date this is over, will be about Obama-Clinton and Sen. McCain is standing on the side saying, 'what about me?'"
But one Democratic senator, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, said she is already concerned the campaign has become too nasty.
"I just think we're going to have to be very careful that these two candidates don't tear each other apart because both are worthy, worthy people and would make excellent presidents," she said. "I was concerned about what we saw in the last week."
Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., said a lengthy fight for the nomination has the potential to divide the party, but he said he is confident Obama and Clinton will be "as professional as possible."
Tester said he has yet to endorse a candidate. He said he will base his decision in part on the popular vote from the June Montana primary, but will also weigh who he thinks has the best chance to beat McCain in the general election.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., argued Clinton is the best for the general election because she has done so well with Latino voters and has won key big states.
"I don't know how it is possible to win the general election if you cannot win in the Southwest, if you can't win Ohio, places like Florida," he said. "These are the key places to win the electoral vote."
(updated 6 p.m. ET with additional reporting)
Hillary – your supporters have spoken, yet again. You can carry this country to victory in 2008!
Dean needs to count FL & MI. Revote MI & let's get Hillary ready to lead us!
I wish people would do research on Hillary and quit taking her word for everything. She has pages upon pages of things that would shock you. Do your research open your eyes before you open your mouths!
Jeremy, why would Obama bow out when he is in the lead? Your lack of logic is impressive!
IF Hillary keeps putting herself 1st over the Majority.
As Indpendent ad wastfull a vote it would be to waste a vote on Ralph I would vote For McCain to take us to Hell because that is what we deserve.
Hillary for president....................................08........................................
Then why the heck John Kerry and Ted Kennedy are running around the country campaigning for Obama? Isn't MA their constituency?
Are those Hillary supporters or a meeting of Wednesday-morning quarterbacks? I love how she's still trailing by over 100 pledged delegates and up until last night, had lost 12 in a row, but the MSM and her rabid-lemming supporters are acting like her wins last night are the second coming of Christ.
Look under the bed. Find the hidden agenda. Look in the closet. Look in the dirty laundry. Look between your ears. Is it scary there, too?
Count Michigan and Florida.
Doesn't Nancy already have her hands full dealing with what many characterize as the worst Congress in history having an approval rating that rivals George Bush?
Yes.. clinton release your tax... we need to know.!!!!!!!!!.. democracy = transparency... ooops I forgot you are a Republican
Shame on you for using all the dirty tricks in the clinton's dictoionary to steal votes and still be proud. I wonder how you are able to sleep at night.
The only way the Deomcrats have a nominee before the convention is if they get rid of the two candiates they have now and start over.
But Hillary can't win without the superdelegates? I wonder what other tricks she has up her sleeve?
The way it is going for the Democratic party, we will see Mr. McCain in the White House.
This is great – let the voters decide without distraction!
Course, I wonder if Senator Kennedy has any regrets since his home state went to Clinton...:-)
I hope Senator Edwards will support Senator Clinton. Perhaps VP. I hope Governor Richardson stays his course and takes care of his own state.
i hope she's not hinting towards that dream ticket crap. i will never vote for HRC on any ticket, and i will lose all respect for Obama for even agreeing to be on a ticket with that lying, underhanded witch. this will be one year i will stay home and not vote.
I am urging Obama to step down and let Hillary put her experience and knowledge in action. There will be plenty of time for Obama once he matures. Right now, is clearly not the right time for him. If he is a true democrat, he will put his ego aside and let Hillary go to work.
This means Hillary can't win
What is Pelosi smoking? This long drawn out primary can't possible be good for the Democrats. McCain gets to run a clean campaign while Democrats tear each other apart. Then by the time the Dems do have a winner, they'll be to tattered to do much to McCain. Heck, Clinton's already helping out McCain–drawing the distinction not between the Dems and the Republicans, but between Obama on the one hand and her and McCain on the other.
Of course it will, you just have to smack some sense into Hillary.
Helloooooooo Hillary, your win is a mathematical impossibility, is this getting thru your thick head.
The house speaker even distorts what McCain said? It was clear and obvious what he meant but let's jump on the opportunity to use his words to mean something else because... hmmm... just because they can. Why don't you look at how many years we have been in many countries around the world?
When the super delegates do vote, I hope they vote with their states' voting results - i.e. Kennedy and Kerry will vote for Hillary! Sweet revenge. Make my day!
The caidate is not official until the Convention, there are still primaries to be held and then the underlieing question of Florida and Michigan to be settled. Superdeligates need to sit and be quite until the convention.
If people are so concerned to get a jump start on the Presidential campaign all that needs happen is for Mr Obama to bow out and permit the Clinton campaign to shift to the general election. Obama might even make a decent VP in training.
If Nancy does not want the party split then she should talk to Hillary.
-Tell Hillary to stop the fear-mongering!
-Tell her to not hestiate the next time she is asked if Obama is a muslim – she and all of congress knows he is a good christian man.
– Tell her to stop sending pictures of him in african clothing to suggest that he is a muslim.
– Tell her to release her tax forms, the papers on her years as first lady, and the fund raising papers for the clinton library. We have a right to know what she is up to!