Young Democrats of America President David Hardt acknowledges it is heady stuff to take a phone call from presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton and to be waiting for the eventual call from her Democratic Party opponent, Sen. Barack Obama.
"It is," said Hardt, a Dallas resident who automatically became a superdelegate for the Democratic Party because of the office he holds. "I’ve had a personal phone call from President Clinton himself, which was quite fascinating just to get a chance to chit-chat with the former president of the U.S."
Hardt’s comments come on the heels of Obama winning contests in eight states since Super Tuesday. He heads into the March 4 primaries, which will include Texas, with the advantage of a building momentum that could sweep up the majority of the remaining pledged delegates to be won.
"It’s interesting there really is a strong possibility now that superdelegates will choose our nominee," said Hardt, who is one of 21 LGBT superdelegates across the nation.
Pledged delegates are won in the state contests and superdelegates award their support at the national convention, which will be held in late August.
That’s why Sen. Clinton, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, have all placed phone calls to Hardt in recent weeks. The Clinton campaign is counting on the support of superdelegates to give her the strength she needs to gain the party’s presidential nomination.
"The Clintons just shine in that area because they are so good at that personal touch," Hardt said. "They know how to make you feel like you are the only person in the world."
Hardt has also fielded phone calls from Clinton’s top campaign advisors and influential
supporters, not to mention the numerous ones he has received from more ordinary folks. He has also received phone calls from the Obama staff, including some from its senior members.
"I’ve had nothing from Obama himself," Hardt said. "I’m waiting for the call."
Hardt said it is a little disappointing not to have heard from Obama yet, but he knows why that has not happened.
"I think that Sen. Obama has taken a different tactic in reaching out to super delegates," Hardt said. "I also think he has taken a different path in how he wants to win the nomination."
Hardt said Obama’s strategy is to build a momentum to win the nomination, and then to use that momentum to carry him through the general election.
"In that sense it’s a smart move for him," Hardt said.
Hardt said the consensus is that if Obama takes Texas, the game is over for Clinton. If Clinton wins, it will break the momentum and allow her to compete for the remaining states and the super delegates, he said.
"I would say don’t count out the Clintons yet," said Hardt, who noted she is popular in Texas and drew 10,000 supporters to a recent El Paso rally.
Jesse Garcia, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, said it is exciting to have local gay Democrat Hardt serving as a super delegate. He noted that Hardt has been interviewed on national news shows about his role.
"It is very exciting to see how someone in our community could help decide the future of the nation," Garcia said. "I know he will do the right thing. I have a lot of confidence in him."
Garcia said the situation benefits LGBT people because Hardt has the ear of influential people, allowing him to tell them what is needed in terms of equality.
Of the 21 LGBT super delegates, which include one in Houston, 14 have committed themselves. There are 12 for Clinton, two for Obama and seven who are undecided. Hardt is undecided, largely because his organization’s bylaws do not allow him to make an endorsement before the convention, he said.
Hardt, who is traveling around the country promoting the Democratic Party, said he sees enormous enthusiasm among young people and blacks. That promises to increase voter turnout by those groups in the November election, he said.
"This is the election we are supposed to win," Hardt said.
But he warned that could be derailed by a prolonged struggle between Clinton and Obama. Sen. John McCain is certain to be the Republican Party’s nominee, based on the number of pledges he has already secured.
"My personal hope … is that the party leaders will sit both of them down in the room and say, ‘Hey, you guys need to work this out now. Otherwise, we’re going to lose an election,’" Hardt said. "Our convention isn’t until late. If we don’t have a nominee until very late, the Republicans will have all the time in the world to build their base of support long before we even know who our candidate is. That’s a frightening thought."
With an early decision by the Democratic Party on its nominee, Hardt said he believes the Democratic Party would be tough to beat.
"No matter who we choose, we have incredible candidates," Hardt said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 15, 2008