March 14, 2008

Mud sticks

A strategist for Hillary Clinton claims that if Barack Obama can't win Pennsylvania, he won't be electable in November.

Though the campaign later argued that he hadn't said it, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's chief campaign strategist told reporters this morning that Sen. Barack Obama "can't win the general election."

Mark Penn made the comment during a conference call in which the Clinton campaign and two of her supporters -- Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter -- argued that Obama has sent Pennsylvanians a bad signal by allegedly downplaying the importance of that state's April 22 primary. They made the case that this memo from Obama campaign manager David Plouffe (which Nutter said the author should be fired for writing), would come back to haunt Obama in the fall if he is the Democratic nominee.

(via memeorandum)
Of course, if that's true, then the Clinton campaign played a role in making that so. Here's how Charles Krauthammer describes it (or here):

With no substantive differences left, the Obama-Clinton campaign was reduced to personality and identity. Not advantageous ground for Hillary. In a personality contest with the charismatic young phenom, she loses in a landslide.

What to do? First, adjust your own persona. Hence that New Hampshire tear and an occasional strategic show of vulnerability to soften her image. It worked for a while, but personality remakes are simply too difficult to pull off for someone as ingrained in the national consciousness as Clinton.

If you cannot successfully pretty yourself, dirty the other guy. Hence the relentless attacks designed to redefine Obama and take him down to the level of ordinary mortals, i.e. Hillary's. Thus the contrived shock on the part of the Clinton campaign that an Obama economic adviser would tell the Canadians not to pay too much attention to Obama's anti-NAFTA populism or that Samantha Power would tell the BBC not to pay too much attention to Obama's current withdrawal plans for Iraq.

The attack line writes itself: Says one thing and means another. So much for the man of new politics. Just an ordinary politician -- like Hillary.

Peter Brown, by the way, doesn't think it will help Sen. Clinton in the end:

Even Clinton's own supporters agree that, given the party's rule that allocates delegates based on a candidate's percentage of the popular vote, it is virtually impossible for Clinton to have more elected delegates when the process ends in June.

At that point, those superdelegates who have not yet picked a candidate will either do so or wait until the actual balloting at the Democratic convention Aug. 25-28 to disclose their preference.

A Democratic nomination fight that goes to the convention would be a major boost for Republican Sen. John McCain, because it would force Clinton and Obama to spend their time and money for the next five months running against each other rather than against him.

It would be ironic if Sen. Clinton's efforts to level the playing field with Sen. Obama was a major factor in the election of Sen. McCain. (I am not criticizing any candidate here, just quoting observations on what happened.)

, .

Posted by SoccerDad at March 14, 2008 2:44 AM
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