A slew of media reports are assessing Hillary Clinton's 55%-45% victory in PA last night as sufficient to allow her to continue her campaign, "but not nearly enough to change the trajectory of the campaign" (DeFrank, New York Daily News, 4/23). Some of the more negative reports:
• Despite HRC's victory, "the dynamics of the race are the same as they've been for more than two months" (Pickler, AP, 4/23).
• "Although her margin was clear, and would be considered a near landslide in an ordinary election, it seemed to have fallen short of the overwhelming blow-out she needed to dramatically reduce the delegate gap" between her and Barack Obama (O'Toole, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/23).
• The "way ahead just gets tougher for Clinton" (Gordon, Newsday, 4/23).
• "When the dust settles" from PA, Obama "will no doubt continue to hold a delegate lead, a popular vote lead and an overwhelming money lead" (Youngman, The Hill, 4/23).
• According to Muhlenberg College prof Chris Borick, Clinton's PA "victory won't put to rest questions" of her electability for superdelegates. "Her heart is beating and she's moving, but has anything really changed?" (Brown, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 4/23).
• Cook Report's Jennifer Duffy: "It's almost like a moral victory, but it doesn't get her any closer to the finish line" (Newsday, 4/23).
• Ex-WH spokesperson Ari Fleischer: "I think it's too early to say that she's the comeback kid. She's got too high a mountain to climb before anybody can say that. You know, to use a football analogy, this is the beginning of the fourth quarter and she's down by about three touchdowns" ("Hannity & Colmes," FNC, 4/22).
• NBC's Gregory: "She has to turn this into actual dollars. ... Or she'll bleed to death" (MSNBC, 4/22).
• Slate's Dickerson, on whether Clinton can overcome Obama's delegate lead: "No. I mean, she can't beat him on the pledged delegates, and she's inching closer on the popular vote, and that's very important for her spin to the superdelegates. But, no, she's not going to beat him and not win more states than he has" ("American Morning," CNN, 4/23).
• The Philadelphia Daily News editorializes that despite her win, "Clinton still has no realistic chance to catch" Obama in the popular vote or in elected delegates (4/23).
• New York Observer's Kornacki writes, Clinton's win in PA "is worth a two-week stay of political execution for the former First Lady—and nothing more" ("The Politicker," 4/23).
The Day The Earth Stood Still, Then Shook
Other media reports highlighted Clinton's "convincing win" and what it could mean for her campaign:
• HRC survived the PA primary, "doing well enough to claim the right to remain in the contest for at least a few more weeks." Not only did she hold off Obama "and his multimillion-dollar media campaign, but she appeared to have quieted, at least for the moment, the voices of those who would like to see her depart the stage as soon as possible" (Eichel, Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/23).
• Clinton "won a clear victory," giving her new hope of "sustaining a come-from-behind struggle to become the first woman to win a major party's" nod (O'Toole, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/23).
• Tom Brokaw: "She can claim that she's the big state victor" (MSNBC, 4/22).
• Clinton chair Terry McAuliffe: "This thing's got a long way to go. ... [The Obama camp] threw multiple kitchen sinks at her. ... She pulled it off" (MSNBC, 4/22).
• FNC's Hannity: "This is a huge night for Hillary Clinton. You might even say she's the comeback kid" (FNC, 4/22).
• New York Times' Brooks: "Clinton, judging from the exit polls tonight, did pick up a few arguments. When you look at the groups she did well on ... among moderates ... among union households ... among people with no college degrees ... among seniors. ... Those are all reasonably impressive groups. ... She did pick up, from the exit polls, some argument that she does reasonably well among groups that really matter and will matter in the fall" ("NewsHour," PBS, 4/22).
• CBS' Greenfield: "It's like the Saturday morning adventure cereals when I was a kid. The heroine is hanging by her fingernails off a cliff. She can't possibly get up. But then she's back again next Saturday" ("Early Show," 4/23).
• CNN's Roberts: "She's like that Chumbawumba song though, isn't she? She gets knocked down but she gets up again" ("American Morning," 4/23).
• CNN's De La Cruz: "Ten points. That's like a million points in the sense that Hillary will keep running rather than let us all take vacations on beaches away from this" ("American Morning," 4/23).
• CNN's Acosta: "Hillary Clinton's big 200,000 vote plus margin of victory in Pennsylvania means she will put a sizable but perhaps not important dent in Barack Obama's delegate lead. She also cuts into his popular vote margin that he has carried over the last several weeks in this campaign" ("American Morning," 4/23).
• CBS's Ververs writes, "she almost certainly muted any calls for her to exit the race" (CBSNews.com).
• Washington Post's Balz writes, Obama's loss in PA "taised anew questions about his ability to win the big industrial states that will be critical" to the Dems' hopes of winning back the WH. In the "coming days, Clinton's camp will try to play on those doubts with uncommitted superdelegates" (4/23).
• CNN's Acosta, on whether the Clinton camp will be able to use the PA victory to convince superdelegates to side with Clinton: "It sounds like for now that this is enough to keep those undecided superdelegates, at least the vast majority of them, on the fence, which is exactly where she wants them at this point" ("American Morning," 4/23).
• Pollster Scott Rasmussen: "What this does is it gives Hillary Clinton another chance to keep fighting in the hope that Barack Obama will make a mistake. And, perhaps, the most significant thing of all is that she will be trying to pressure him into a mistake by calling for more debates" ("Hannity & Colmes," FNC, 4/22).
• Temple Univ prof Michael Hagen: "This was not just a win, it was a solid win in an important state" (Feldmann, Christian Science Monitor, 4/23 ).
• PA Gov. Ed Rendell (D), at Clinton's Philadelphia rally: "We're not only going to change the dynamic-- it's the equivalent of a political earthquake" (Bruns/Kapp, FOXNews, 4/23).
Runnin' Down A Dream
Clinton advisers emphasized that neither they nor Clinton "were feeling anything close to defeatist" (Healy, New York Times, 4/23). Clinton's supporters in Philadelphia "were acting as though" HRC "was on an express train" to the WH. "Waving signs proclaiming that Clinton was, among other things, the 'smart choice,' her backers greeted the candidate with a nearly three-minute ovation as Tom Petty's music blared through loudspeakers" (Levey, New York Times, 4/23).
In her victory speech in Philadelphia, Clinton dedicated her win to "everyone who's been counted out" (AP, 4/23). Clinton to her cheering supporters: "Some counted me out and said to drop out. But the American people don't quit. And they deserve a president who doesn't quit, either. Clinton: "You listened and today you chose. ... Because of you, the tide is turning" (Thomma, McClatchy, 4/23).
Her Speech: Subtext, Please
GOP pollster Frank Luntz: "Fantastic, absolutely the best speech that I have heard her give. Words will become solutions, hope will become reality -- drawing a clear, crisp contrast with Barack Obama, trying to say that while he is offering something, she is actually going to deliver it. ... Perfect tone, almost perfect delivery, an audience that was clearly engaged" ("Hannity & Colmes," FNC, 4/22).
CNN's King, asked what stood out: "Tenacity, as she's going on. She understands the math. She knows the math. She doesn't mention it in her speech. The other thing that jumped out at me in about the first minute of the speech, she said, 'Send money.' She's winning tonight, but guess what? She knows that Obama has more money in the bank. She is low on money. Two weeks now to two critical contests. Striking to hear a candidate, as she says, 'Thank you, I win,' but almost in her very next breath say, 'Send money'" (4/22).
Ex-WH adviser David Gergen: "There was something else, though, about this speech tonight, beyond the money. And that is how positive she went. She never went after Barack Obama in that speech. She did not eviscerate him. She didn't go negative" (CNN, 4/22).
Dem strategist Donna Brazile: "I thought Senator Clinton tonight in her speech really didn't speak to superdelegates and try to address some of the process questions about electability. Rather, she talked to the voters. She talked to the American people. ... She was talking to the voters in Indiana and North Carolina and the upcoming states. Because she knows that, in order to win or to have a chance of winning, she must win another big state" (CNN, 4/22).
MSNBC's Matthews: "Her manner, I think, was much more confident than we've seen before. ... She managed to speak tonight with great calm, confidence. I think it was a good message. Which was why she won. Why it is important to win the general election in November. It wasn't a partisan speech in the sense of rivalry kind of speech with Barack Obama" (4/22).
Senior Citizens Sans The Early Bird Specials
Demographically speaking, Clinton benefited from the following in her PA win:
• In a "state racked by economic anxiety, Clinton rolled to victory with strong support from women, seniors and blue-collar voters" (Barabak/Levey, Los Angeles Times, 4/23).
• Chicago Tribune's Tackett writes, She "benefited from a head-turning sequence of events that crystallized in a debate with Obama last week." He had to "re-litigate the weeks-old controversy" over his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his association with Weather Underground's William Ayers. She also "pulled off the persona of a shot-and-a-beer type" (4/23).
• Exit polling showed that Clinton "won overwhelmingly in that western part of the state -- especially in the rusty ex-steel towns and coal-mining communities that ring Pittsburgh," where she racked up 70% of the vote. Another "huge factor in her win was overwhelming support from voters over age 65 in the state with the nation's third-oldest population, behind only FL and WV (Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News, 4/23).
• Syndicated columnist Mark Shields: "If one really wants to scrutinize the demographic that determines Hillary Clinton's going on and surviving through thick and a lot of thin and a lot of adversity, I think you have to look at her gender. I mean, women voters have been constant, especially women voters over the age of 50, who are not college graduates and probably of incomes less than $50,000 have been the stalwarts, have been the base, have been the real energy of her campaign on election days" ("NewsHour," PBS, 4/22).
• "Late deciders favored Clinton by a wide margin, boosting her to an essential victory." Clinton won about 6 in 10 "of those who had decided in either the past three days or the past week whom they were going to support" (Kuhn, Politico, 4/23).
Clinton "parlayed" her PA win "into a pitch for funds," and her camp said she raised $2.5M in less than three hours after voting ended. Clinton spokesperson Mo Elleithee called it "our best fundraising night ever" (Woellert/Salant, Bloomberg, 4/24).
Speaking to supporters in Philadelphia last night, Clinton emphasized that she had triumphed came despite trailing Obama financially. Clinton: "He broke every spending record in this state trying to knock us out of this race. Well, the people of Pennsylvania had other ideas."
But she "quickly put out a call for supporters to donate to her campaign, noting that 'we can only keep winning if we can keep competing with an opponent who outspends us so massively.'" She urged viewers to visit her website and "show your support" (Healy, New York Times, 4/23).
Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
Looking to capitalize on Clinton's performance in PA, her campaign spent 4/22 "planning a fresh fundraising drive, while other aides mapped out political strategy and staff movement to the next major primaries" in IN and NC on 5/6 (Healy, New York Times, 4/23).
But with Clinton finding it difficult to make inroads in NC, IN "is shaping up as the bigger battleground" (Christensen, Raleigh News & Observer, 4/23). Indeed, IN is a "make-or-break challenge" for HRC, and "several of her advisers... said that they would urge her to quit the race if she lost that state" (Healy, New York Times, 4/23).
NBC's Russert, on Clinton's "sizable" win: "It guarantees she will have the money to run a very competitive race in Indiana. Every cent she gets will keep the plane in the air and to buy TV time on the air. And she will raise enough money. She won't be able to repay her $5 million loan and I don't think Mark Penn will be paid off, but she will be on television in Indiana and North Carolina. No doubt about it" (MSNBC, 4/22).
More Russert: "If she wins Indiana, this goes all the way into June. It's like a tennis match. Barack Obama had a chance for match point. He didn't get it. Now it's deuce game" ("Today," 4/23).
The Road Less Traveled?
In an editorial titled "The Low Road To Victory," the New York Times-- which endorsed Clinton-- criticized HRC's "negativity" in the PA campaign, noting: "It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.... On the eve of this crucial primary," Clinton became the first Dem candidate "to wave the bloody shirt of 9/11. A Clinton television ad -- torn right from Karl Rove's playbook — evoked the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, the Cuban missile crisis, the cold war and the 9/11 attacks, complete with video of Osama bin Laden" (2/23).
Doing Right By The Hotline
"Wagging his finger once again," Bill Clinton "chided a reporter" 4/21 "for what he deemed a misinterpretation of his remarks during a radio interview in which he said the Obama camp 'played the race card on me'" (Phillips, New York Times, 2/23).
Asked yesterday by ex-Hotline reporter Mike Memoli, now of NBC/National Journal, what he'd meant by accusing the Obama campaign of playing the race card, Clinton responded: "No, no, no. That's not what I said. You always follow me around and play these little games and I'm not going to play your games today." Clinton then accused Memoli of trying to "get another cheap story to divert the American people" (Davies, Philadelphia Daily News, 4/23).
MSNBC's Matthews: "Did the president or did he not say on radio in Philadelphia yesterday that the Obama campaign played the race card against him? Yes, he did. ... And then this morning, talking to our reporter, he denied having said that. I'm just going to the fact here, not the argument. ... I'm not sure he built the usual escape hatch that Bill Clinton likes to build" ("Hardball," 4/22).
NBC's Mitchell: "The Clinton people do have several memos from people inside the Obama campaign suggesting all of this racial bias on Bill Clinton's part. He obviously feels very deeply, very sensitively that this is unfair. He really does not see what happened in South Carolina as a way a lot of other people do see it, the way he's been criticized for it. ... And then today when questioned about it, he bristled and it's classic Bill Clinton" (MSNBC, 4/22).
Chelsea Picks Favorite Parent
Campaigning in NC, Chelsea Clinton said 4/22 "that her mother would be a better president than her father because she is more prepared and more progressive." Chelsea: "I think that she'll be a better president because she'll be more progressive and she's more prepared. She'll just hit the ground running from day one in a way that my father was not as equipped to do" (AP, 4/23).
Networks In Sweeps
Clinton made the rounds on the a.m. shows this morning.
Clinton, asked if she has gained enough in terms of delegates and the popular vote to still win the nod: "Absolutely. I think what happened yesterday was an incredible development. The voters in Pennsylvania, one of the states we have to try to win in the fall, made it absolutely clear that they were voting for my leadership, my experience, the solutions that I have offered. ... More people have now voted for me than have voted for my opponent. In fact, I now have more votes than anybody has ever had in a primary contest for a nomination."
On exit polls showing two-thirds of PAans believe she attacked Obama unfairly: "That's part of campaigns and it goes back and forth. That's the way campaigns are. But I also know that since our victory last night, we've raised $3 million on the internet" ("Today," NBC, 4/23).
On the New York Times saying she took the "low road to victory": "I think all of the people in the recordbreaking turnout in Pennsylvania yesterday were coming out because they are positive about my leadership. They are very excited about the solutions that I have spent this entire campaign talking about. ... For me, it was incredibly gratifying to win so decisively in the face of a very determined and quite well-funded campaign that was outspending me three-to-one that was, you know, taking some pretty tough hits at me as well."
On Obama supporters saying they will not vote for her the longer this battle goes on: "I've heard stories about my supporters saying that and his supporters saying that. But I have a very clear message to everyone who has voted for either Senator Obama or myself, and that is that you have voted for a Democrat, a Democrat who will make tremendous changes in our country, and the differences between Senator Obama and myself are nothing in comparison to our differences with Senator McCain and the Republicans" ("Early Show," CBS, 4/23).
Asked how she celebrated the win: "We just had a great time last night with so many of our supporters who worked so hard for this victory, it's really theirs. ... It's been a great 10, 12 hours since then."
Asked if superdelegates overturning the popular vote sends the wrong signal: "No, not at all, because remember, you know, some votes that have been taken over the course of the last four months have resulted in delegates being selected. But we have a process in the Democratic Party, and the so-called automatic delegates are the ones who have been entrusted with the responsibility of trying to exercise independent judgment, which is indeed what they'll do. I have no way of predicting what they'll decide, but I think last night's win should give a lot of fresh information to our superdelegates."
ABC's Sawyer: "A color note on the victory speech last night. We saw President Clinton come up and give maybe one of the longest hugs we've seen on stage in a long time. What did he say to you during the course of that?"
Clinton: "Well, he was just so happy, because he knows a lot about what it means to be a president. He knows how hard I've worked and he really believes in my message. ... He was just telling me how proud he was and how excited he was. And we are" ("GMA," ABC, 4/23).
Clinton, to MSNBC's/ex-Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL): "Joe, I think you have what I consider to be the advantage of actually running for office, unlike a lot of the people who cover politics and do so the best they can from a distance. But you've been there and you know exactly that if you're outspent three or four-to-one and you win by double digits, that raises more questions about your opponent than it does about you."
Scarborough: "Well, it certainly does."
Clinton: "I just think it's going be interesting to see whether anybody else asks him over the next couple of days."
Scarborough: "It was an inspiring victory. Again, as somebody that has run on a much, much, much smaller scale, what you did in Pennsylvania, over six weeks, being outspent with those ads going up every minute by Barack Obama, hey, anybody that hasn't run for office just doesn't realize what an incredible victory that was last night" ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 4/23).
Clinton, on what she thinks about calls for her to get out of the race: "I understand the argument that my opponent is trying to make, trying to rush people into a decision before everyone has had a chance to vote, until we really can take stock of who the stronger candidate is, where each of us have gotten our votes, where each of us have gotten our delegates, what it really looks like going into the fall, but that's just what we're going to see happen. We're going to keep competing in these upcoming states."
On choosing to run a TV ad some have said uses fear tactics: "All I can say is the next president is going to face some really tough decisions and to pretend otherwise or to act as though terrorism or a natural disaster like Katrina is just out of bounds, I think doesn't reflect what is actually going to face our nominee in the fall when he or she is up against Senator McCain and the next president of the united states, and that ad didn't mention my opponent's name. It was about my leadership. It was about my experience. It was about what presidents have to contend with" ("American Morning," CNN, 4/23).
FNC's Doocy: "Senator, was it a Crown Royal night last night at the Clinton place?"
Clinton: "There wasn't that kind of celebrating going on because I knew I had to get up so early to come talk to you."
Asked where she would stand if the Dems had the same nominating process as the GOPers: "It is interesting because if we had the same system as the Republicans, I would already be the nominee. And if the Republicans had our system, they would still be duking it out among Senator McCain and Governors Huckabee and Romney apparently. So I think we will take a look at it."
Asked if she and Obama will debate in either NC or IN: "Well, I think it's a shame that Senator Obama will not agree to debates in Indiana and North Carolina. I have accepted any and all debates in both states because, you know, most people really want to see us. We've only had four debates between the two of us. And now it is down to the two of us. So I think that voters are right to want to have a debate in North Carolina. ... I'm still hopeful because I think it's a shame that apparently he is unwilling or afraid to debate me when there is so much at stake and these two states deserve to have a debate" ("Fox & Friends," FNC, 4/23).
This article appears in the April 23, 2008, edition of Latest Edition.