Obama or Clinton: Dean Sets Deadline

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said Monday that either Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama must drop out of the Democratic presidential race after the June primaries in order to unify the party by the convention and win the election in November.

But Dean didn't say which candidate should drop out, only that it should happen after primary voters have been to the polls.

"We want the voters to have their say. That's over on June 3," Dean said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Dean also said that while the party rules say Democratic superdelegates can wait until the party's August 25 convention to make up their minds, that would be too late to unify the party and defeat the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain.

"We really can't have a divided convention. If we do it's going to be very hard to heal the party afterwards," Dean said. "So we'll know who the nominee is and that'll give us an extra 2 1/2 months to get our party together, heal the wounds of having a very closely divided race and take on Senator McCain."

Dean said he won't have to tell either Clinton or Obama when it's time to leave the race.

"Either of these candidates, if it's time for them to go, they'll know it and they will go," Dean said. "They don't need any pushing from me. You know when to get in and you know when to get out. That's just part of the deal."

"This is not about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama," Dean added. "This is about our country. It's about a better course for our country. ... We've got to move on and win the presidency."

Obama has more delegates and popular votes than Clinton, but she is also fresh off a big-state win in Pennsylvania.

Dean said that "none of the so-called party elders I talked to" think the contest should go until the convention. "I agree with that," Dean said.

"We've got nine more primaries ... Five hundred of the 800 unpledged delegates have already said who they are for. The remaining 300 will do that by the end of June and we'll know who our nominee is and that's what we need to do," Dean said on NBC's "Today" show.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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