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THE FIELD

Closing The Gap

A "slew" of nat'l polls suggest that Hillary Clinton "is closing the gap" on Barack Obama. The polls "were being conducted" as ex-Obama pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright "was making a series of highly publicized speeches and as Obama repudiated him." One CNN poll indicated that 59% of voters "had an unfavorable opinion of Wright," while only 9% "had a favorable opinion" (Boston Globe, 5/2).

Like A Rolling Stone

Despite "a series of trials" that have put Obama "on the defensive," his camp "is rolling along," leaving Clinton "with dwindling options."

 

It's the "uncommitted superdelegates" that matter most at this point. Along the same line as the Obama camp's logic, superdelegates "suggest that they are more sympathetic to the argument that they should follow the will of the voters as expressed by the delegates amassed by the candidates when the primary season is done rather than following Mrs. Clinton's admonitions to select the candidate they think would best be able to defeat" McCain. OH Dem Chair Chris Redfern: "It's about the numbers, and the numbers are the numbers. It's not about hand-wringing. And Senator Obama has the lead."

Clinton "must win" the IN primary "as a means of demonstrating to supporters and donors that she is building on momentum" after PA and "she must run strongly enough" in NC to "avoid the perception that she did no better than an even split." Finally, she must then "win in a state that catches people by surprise," like OR or MT. Without that "latter success," it would be "all but impossible for her to match" Obama in the popular vote total.

Clinton strategist Geoff Garin "said the campaign hoped to end the primary season" on 6/3 "lifted by a series of victories, and by coming close in the pledged delegate totals and the popular vote -- though he declined to say what close would be" (Nagourney/Hulse, New York Times, 5/2).

 

Foxed Up

It appears that FNC "is no longer in the doghouse" with Dems. Consider this week: Obama appeared on "Fox News Sunday," a booking that host Chris Wallace "had been seeking for more than two years." Later, Clinton "granted her first interview to Bill O'Reilly." And this Sunday, Dem Chair Howard Dean "plans to sit down with Wallace for the first time" since 11/06. What explains this turnout in the Dem-Fox relationship?

Clinton camp chair Terry McAuliff: "Fox has given Hillary Clinton better coverage than all the other cables." FNC VP John Moody: "Both senators are very smart people. They're locked in a very tight battle, and they're realizing that coming on Fox News is a way to get themselves exposed to the greatest number of people who watch cable news."

This "rapprochement" comes "as the focus of the primary race is shifting from party loyalists to the kind of swing voters who share" FNC's "populist sensibilities." The channel "is an especially desirable forum on the eve of" the 5/6 IN primary, which is open to GOPers (Gold, Los Angeles Times, 5/2).

More On Why The Candidates Are Foxed Up

Political exec. producer Marty Ryan: "I think the candidates are starting to realize that they need to reach the people who we reach already." Still, political calculations "are evident on both sides." With Fox leading the coverage of Wright's remarks, "it was logical for Mr. Obama to appear on Fox and respond." Wallace: "In the end, they don't do it for us -- they do it for themselves." Moreover, in any given hour, nearly 1M viewers are watching Fox News, compared with about 600K for CNN and 380K for MSNBC (Stelter, New York Times, 5/2).

 

On the other hand, the Dems' "detente with Fox has provoked a backlash from progressive bloggers." Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas: "Democrats are being idiotic by going on that network" (Allen, Politico, 5/2).

Stop Being So Republican

New York Times' Krugman writes, "Obama "is doing much more harm" to the Dem cause "by echoing" GOP "attack lines on such issues as insurance mandates and Social Security." In a recent FNC interview with Wallace, he demonstrated his "post-partisanship by giving" GOPers "credit for good ideas they never had" (5/2).

A People United

Chicago Sun-Times' Simpson writes, the Dems are "in danger" of repeating the mistakes of '68, when they went into a convention floor fight in Chicago. "The lesson to be remembered is that when the divisions between the candidates and factions got too bitter and too entrenched, we lost." After the primaries end on 6/3, "it is critical that we all agree on a nominee and unite" (5/2).

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Along the Same Line

In an AP interview, Obama-suporter/Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) said the longer the race goes on, "the harder it will be for the party to win this fall." Dodd: "Winning an election is literally threading a needle -- you need everything going right for you." Dodd said "unifying passionate Obama and Clinton supporters across the country could be difficult." Dodd: "The problem as this thing goes further down the pike is that your supporters, the intensity, increases. Your loyalty deepens. Your feelings about the other side deepen. ... The question is really whether these other folks out there, who have really invested a great deal of their lives in this effort for the last two years, are going to be willing to sort of pat each other on the back and go charging off for eight weeks."

Regarding a contested convention, Dodd said: "I can't imagine this party will allow itself to go into the end of August undecided. I can't think of anything worse we could do to the nominee than to give him or her a divided convention with eight weeks to go in a national election in a divided country. So, I'm sort of dazzled by the fact that this is ongoing."

On the Wright controversy, Dodd "said Obama showed strong leadership in dealing with adversity." Dodd: "What happened over the last week is not insignificant, but he handled it very well and actually it strengthened his campaign because he took on a challenge and handled it well. I think you want to see how you handle adversity, and he handled his adversity rather well" (5/1).

Stay Classy

"A class divide" has appeared "as the primary season winds down." In state after states, "wealthier, better-educated voters have flocked" to Obama, while "poorer, less-educated voters have sided overwhelmingly with" Clinton. Dem strategist Matt Klink: "The party establishment is very concerned about it. Really, what's going on is a fight for the heart and soul of the party. ... They've got to resolve this schism. When they do that, they win" (Gillman, Dallas Morning News, 5/1).

National Journal's Brownstein reports, if hostility to Obama persists among "noncollege whites," he could "overcome it with a strong performance among independents, especially those with an advanced education." Moreover, Clinton's "struggles with black" Dems might "foreshadow greater risks" in 11/08 (5/3).

So How's Disney?

Charlotte Observer's Johnson, asked if John Edwards will endorse before the NC primary: "It just seems unlikely. ... There wouldn't be a lot of time for him to engage in the campaign if he did make an endorsement" ("On the Record," FNC, 5/1).

Please Be Seated

Dean appeared on the "Daily Show" last night.

Jon Stewart: "Sir, what a remarkable year we are seeing, a war that is unpopular with the American people. A president at historic lows. An economy that is truly struggling. It would take a Herculean effort to f*ck this up. Sir, my question is this, how will you do it?"

Dean: "We're working on it really hard, Jon. ... No, I think we're going to win."

Stewart: "If I were designing a plan to submarine your chances, and again, you don't have to follow my advice here. I would take the state that was let's say crucial to the Republican election, let's call it Florida. And I would find a way to insult them. Maybe not seat them at the convention, that sort of thing. Then which would pick a rust belt state, maybe Michigan, say to them the same thing. Now you have two states that are angry with you. Do you think that would be a good way?"

Dean: "Well, we're actually going to seat them at the convention."

Stewart: "What? This is news!"

Dean: "We will find a way to seat them at the convention."

Stewart: "Can't you muscle them. Are Florida and Michigan just renegade groups or do they have their own currency? I don't understand? How come they don't have to abide by the rules?"

Dean: "They do. That is why they lost their delegates."

Stewart: "Why do you think that the Republicans have an easier time corralling their people or breaking the rules?"

Dean: "You know, the Republicans took away half their delegates too."

Stewart: "But somehow it doesn't hurt them."

Dean: "I know."

Stewart: "They find a way somehow to get us out of the Geneva Convention. I don't even know how they did that. But somehow they find the loopholes" (Comedy Central, 5/1).

For more of the interview, see today's Play of the Day.

Blame China

Clinton "got in just ahead" of Obama "in the race to endorse anti-China trade legislation." On 4/30, Clinton signed up "as a cosponsor of the Fair Currency Act," a bill "intended to crack down on countries that manipulate their currencies in order to gain an edge in international trade." Obama, meanwhile, "followed suit" on 5/1 (Phillips, "Washington Wire," Wall Street Journal, 5/1).

Agreeing To Agree

Although Obama and Clinton "are squaring off over a gas tax holiday," they are "on the same page when it comes to oil company profits." In a statement 5/1, Clinton said: "There is something seriously wrong with our economy when Exxon's record $11 billion in quarterly profits are seen as a disappointment by Wall Street." More: "This is truly Dick Cheney's wonderland." Obama "didn't pounce on the latest news" about Exxon, "but he's previously endorsed a windfall profits tax, specifically citing ExxonMobil" (Farnam, "Washington Wire," Wall Street Journal, 5/1).

Debate Prep

AP's Mears writes, debate challenges "are a ploy, not an issue." They are "in the playbook for the candidate trying to catch up," in this case Clinton. The Clinton camp "is hammering" the debate topic, telling Dems in NC, IN, OR and MT "that they deserve to have debates of their own." The idea "sounds good at campaign rallies," but the location of debates "doesn't really make any difference because one stage set up for television looks just like another" (5/1).

Who's In Front?

Columbia Journalism Review's Hendler reports, the Dems' nominating process "is a kaleidoscope of caucuses, conventions, and primaries, sometimes all in the same state. And there’s no obvious best way to estimate a popular vote from it all." So both the Clinton and Obama camps' popular vote counts, and those of news organizations, have a level of "ambiguity."

The biggest difference is between caucuses and primaries. Not only are caucuses low-turnout events, "but four caucus states don't report the individual caucus-goers' preferences. Together, those states have a population of more than 11M, "and there is no precise information on how individuals 'voted' at those caucuses" (5/2).

This article appears in the May 2, 2008 edition of Latest Edition.

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