Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Thoughts on Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas & Vermont

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 320

Hillary Clinton emerged victorious in some major contests last night, and that is big news if for no other reason than it is the first time anyone has been able to put the words "Clinton" and "victorious" in the same sentence in quite a while.

About the only conclusion that can be immediately drawn from last night's results is that the Democratic race has a ways to go before being settled (anyone in the room who didn't see that coming, go stand in the corner). The Clinton campaign can now draw its first breath since February 5 and turn its attention to what comes next. One gets the impression that when the Clinton campaign thinks "next," they mean Pennsylvania on April 22, but that ignores Wyoming's caucuses this coming Saturday and Mississippi's primary next Tuesday. Those two contests, while combining to offer just 45 delegates, are important in that they provide the winner with the chance to, in the Clinton version, build some momentum from last night's results and roll up some more "hey! wha' happun?" stories from the thunderstruck mainstream media, or, in the Obama version, diminish the atmospherics that now prevail after last night's voting and reinforce the daunting challenge Clinton faces in closing Obama's delegate lead, which remains little changed despite last night's outcome. The Clinton campaign has heretofore shown a tendency to look past small contests; we'll see whether that trend continues.

For the Republicans, or at least those Republicans who back John McCain, all is joy this morning: McCain numerically clinched the delegates required for nomination last night, and is scheduled to receive President Bush's endorsement in the White House Rose Garden this morning (for which gesture I, as a Democrat, am eternally grateful. John McCain standing side-by-side with George W. Bush, receiving the president's blessing to carry on with policies that have skyrocketed him to public approval ratings persistently below 30 percent? Now there's a Kodak moment!). Unfortunately for McCain, important segments of the GOP base still view him as little better than either of the remaining Democratic candidates, so the Straight Talk Express is facing a bumpy ride, not to mention an uphill one, going into November.

And for Barack Obama, the next few weeks present both challenge and opportunity. If Obama can recoup from last night with large-margin wins in Wyoming and Mississippi and roll out meaningful numbers of super delegate commitments, he can present the case that the delegate lead he enjoys leaves Clinton with no realistic path to the nomination, and renew his drive with the Democratic establishment to press for Clinton's withdrawal in the interests of party unity. In the event that Clinton remains in the race through Pennsylvania and beyond, the campaign is sure to continue its negative trend, and the challenge for Obama then becomes showing that he can take a punch and hit back effectively. Doing that without disillusioning those who look to him as the progenitor of a better political culture will be no easy feat, but if he can pull it off, it would enhance his image by adding an element of toughness to his change agent persona. That would serve him well going into a general election campaign against John McCain.

Virtual Spin Room: Texas & Ohio

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 320

After the big votes in Texas & Ohio, here's what the candidates want you to think:

Hillary Clinton

It's a pretty incredible feeling, isn't it? After our victories tonight we have the momentum, thanks to your will, determination, and hard work.

Some people were ready to count us out. But you and I proved them wrong, just as we have every time they tried to declare this race over prematurely. And we're going to keep showing them exactly what we can do.

We're going to do it for everyone across America who's been counted out -- but refused to be knocked out. For everyone who's stumbled -- but stood right back up. And for everyone who works hard -- but never gives up.

I hope you enjoy our victories tonight as much as I am. We won this one together, and that makes it that much better. Thank you so very much for all you have done for our campaign.

Let's build on this remarkable momentum. Each and every one of you can make a statement tonight by going to

Thank you so much for everything you did to make this night possible.

All the best,

Barack Obama

We may not know the final outcome of today's voting until morning, but the results so far make one thing clear.

When the dust settles from today's contests, we will maintain our substantial lead in delegates. And thanks to millions of people standing for change, we will keep adding delegates and capture the Democratic nomination.

We knew from the day we began this journey that the road would be long. And we knew what we were up against.

We knew that the closer we got to the change we seek, the more we'd see of the politics we're trying to end -- the attacks and distortions that try to distract us from the issues that matter to people's lives, the stunts and the tactics that ask us to fear instead of hope.

But this time -- this year -- it will not work. The challenges are too great. The stakes are too high.

Americans need real change.

In the coming weeks, we will begin a great debate about the future of this country with a man who has served it bravely and loves it dearly. And we will offer two very different visions of the America we see in the twenty-first century.

John McCain has already dismissed our call for change as eloquent but empty.

But he should know that it's a call that did not begin with my words. It's the resounding call from every corner of this country, from first-time voters and lifelong cynics, from Democrats and Republicans alike.

And together you and I are going to grow this movement to deliver that change in November.

Thank you,


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