To hints from Hillary Clinton's camp that it might take the dispute over Florida and Michigan past Saturday's rules committee meeting and perhaps to the national convention, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a firm reply:
Not going to happen.
Pelosi, the California congresswoman who is chairwoman of the Democratic National Convention in late August, said if necessary, she will "step in" to resolve the nomination fight by late June.
"Because we cannot take this fight to the convention," she said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board published today. "It must be over before then."
UPDATE: Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the US Senate, is also weighing in, telling a San Francisco radio station today that he is pressing undeclared superdelegates to go public soon after the last primaries on Tuesday.
"We are going to urge folks to make a decision quickly -- next week," Reid said.
He said he had talked to Peloisi earlier in the day and to Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday night about making sure the nomination fight does not go past June.
Pelosi has stayed publicly neutral, though most political observers say she probably backs Barack Obama. She has said that superdelegates should not overturn the will of voters, as expressed in pledged delegates. Under the current math -- which could change if Florida and Michigan delegates are restored -- Obama clinched a majority of pledged delegates after last week's primaries in Kentucky and Oregon.
She is among the party leaders who believe that a battle that goes to the convention would wound the eventually nominee's hopes in November, perhaps fatally.
Pelosi also said that Florida and Michigan Democrats should be punished for holding their primaries in January, before party rules allowed. She also hinted she agreed with the party's lawyers, who told the rules committee this week that they must take away at least half the states' delegates, a total of 211 in Florida and 157 in Michigan.
"If you have no order and no discipline in terms of party rules, people will be having their primary in the year before the presidential election," she said. "So there has to be some penalty."
Asked about Pelosi's comments, Terry McAuliffe, Clinton's campaign chairman, said on MSNBC that he believes the Florida and Michigan delegates will be resolved Saturday.
He said that both states had already paid a "tough price" because the candidates didn't campaign there, and that the priority now should be making sure voters in Florida and Michigan don't feel disenfranchised -- and thus favor Republican John McCain in the fall.
McAuliffe also said he agrees with Pelosi that undeclared superdelegates will decide soon after the final primaries on Tuesday.
"I've always said sometime in June it'll be over," he said.
Former Senator Tom Daschle, one of Obama's top surrogates, said on MSNBC he expects the Illinois senator to win the majority of total delegates next week -- and perhaps declare himself the nominee.
With many preparations needed for the convention and the general election campaign, it would help Obama if the unity moment with Clinton could happen soon, Daschle said.
"The sooner it can happen, the better," he said. "But that's up to her."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.