Stephanopoulos tells Cornell we’re headed for "historic election"

MOUNT VERNON – ABC Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos told a packed house in Cornell College’s King Chapel tonight that the race for a Democratic nominee essentially ended Tuesday after the North Carolina and Indiana primaries.

“The Democratic race right now is over,” he told the crowd of 850 during the Delta Phi Rho Lecture. “I think that Tuesday night was the decisive tipping point. Mathematically … it’s simply not possible for Sen. Clinton to catch Sen. Obama.”


But he didn’t think it was over for Sen. Clinton. A “dream team” ticket of Obama-Clinton, he said, has powerful logic and would make history by placing the first African-American and the first woman in the White House.

One way or another, he said, they were headed toward an historic election.

“You’re either going to have the first woman president,” said Stephanopoulos, “the first African-American president, or the first president to get elected at a time when he would defy every historical

The biggest barrier to choosing Sen. Clinton as a running mate is her husband. Stephanopoulos said he was only half joking when he suggested Obama could make Bill Clinton “ambassador to everything” to keep him out of the way. Better yet, the former president could be given discreet tasks as an envoy, he said.

Sen. Clinton may need to pull out within two weeks, Stephanopoulos said, but she has never lost a race and that it is “a difficult process to wrap her head around.”

While both Obama and Clinton set records for voter turnout, Obama has run a better campaign. He has raised more money and is the first primary candidate to successfully use the Internet for fundraising and
communication. He also “learned from his mistakes,” which is a good quality in a presidential candidate, Stephanopoulos said.

Asked if Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses are secure, Stephanopoulos said yes. “You got more states involved-you couldn’t have done better.”

Over the course of the 40-minute speech, Stephanopoulos broke down the successful and not so successful strategies of both candidates, offering insight into a primary season that has been hard to grasp.

“This is a year,” said Stephanopoulos, “where fundamentally people will be voting for change.”

“Whoever takes office on January 20, 2009 is going to face an array of challenges unlike any president who’s walked into the Oval Office since Franklin Roosevelt,” he said.

A former high school and college wrestler, Stephanopoulos praised Cornell’s wrestling heritage, and said he was at home in the 1882 chapel, being the son, grandson, nephew and godson of Greek Orthodox priests.

Previous Delt Lecture speakers have been Bob Woodward and Fareed Zakaria. The series is funded by an endowment that originated with a group of early 1960s Delt alumni who wanted to leave a legacy as part of
the 1998 Delt centennial celebration. The fund now stands at $600,000, and due to the overwhelming success of the lectures, the Delts have pledged to bring the endowment to $1 million in order to ensure a Delt Lecture annually.

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