He has been publicly silent about the bruising primary battle between Obama and Clinton, but Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean weighed in this AM, saying he wants a superdelegate decision by July 1, to bring closure before the convention. From an interview with Harry Smith on CBS this AM. (The Politico):

Harry Smith asked if after the nominating contests end with the South Dakota and Montana primaries on June 3,  “Do you want the superdelegates to have some sort of vote immediately so that you’ll know months in advance of the convention what the outcome is?”

Dean replied: “Well, I think the superdelegates have already been weighing in. I think that there’s 800 of them and 450 of them have already said who they’re for. I’d like the other 350 to say who they’re at some point between now and the first of July so we don’t have to take this into the convention.”

An aide explains that July 1 is not a drop-dead deadline: “The point is before the convention, ideally in June.”

More after the jump.

…HARRY SMITH: “There’s a lot of ill will growing among Democrats. Polls show a significant number of supporters of both candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, say that they will switch to John McCain if their candidate is not chosen. How are you going to put this back together again?”

DEAN: “Well, I think the candidates have got to understand that they have an obligation to our country to unify. Somebody’s going to lose this race with 49.8 percent of the vote. And that person has got to pull their supporters in behind the nominee. That’s our obligation, because in the end this is not about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It’s about our country. We’re not going to have four more years of George W. Bush, which is essentially what McCain is offering us. There’s a really big difference between our candidates on these issues. And I don’t believe for a moment that at the end of the day, the Democrats are going to vote for somebody who’s going to put more right-wingers on the Supreme Court. But we do need to keep in mind that personal attacks now, often do have the seeds of demoralization later on. So I want to make sure this campaign stays on the high ground.”

In endorsement news, Sen. Bob Casey (PA) came out to back Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president. That’s a state is pretty much a sure win for Clinton. The latest Rasmussen Reports poll in the state shows Clinton leading Obama 49% to 39%. Earlier in the month Clinton led 51% to 38%.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding