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Dan Payne

Clinton shows her chutzpah

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Dan Payne
March 6, 2008

THE MORE things change the more they stay the same. Hillary Clinton had a big night, but moved only inches closer to the nomination. Payne Fellows are clamoring for meaning, so I offer some lessons.

Negative campaigning works. Barack Obama has never had to cope with multiple warhead attacks coming at him. It showed. Obama and his ever-hopeful handlers were unprepared when the Clinton campaign said they were going to throw the kitchen sink at him. Maybe they were expecting an elegant brushed steel model.

You can scare some of the people. The Clinton 3 a.m. telephone spot ran only in Texas, but it woke up some Democrats. Obama's campaign should've launched a tough counterattack after her advisers, on a conference call with reporters, couldn't name a single crisis Clinton had faced.

In Ohio, Obama got undercut by his top economic adviser telling a Canadian diplomat that Obama was faking it on the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Clinton campaign jumped on it.

It had to hurt in Ohio, where NAFTA is a dry Katrina for a state that's lost 200,000 jobs since W took office. Did you notice she didn't mention NAFTA once in her victory speech in Ohio?

Proportional allocating of delegates is working as intended. It's expressing the voters' view: They like them both. Nevertheless, it prolongs the agony. Thanks to the GOP's winner-take-all primaries, John McCain barely broke a sweat.

Hispanics delivered. Clinton got 64 percent of the Hispanic vote in Texas, Obama got 32 percent. Unhappy with how they've been attacked by the anti-immigrant GOP know-nothings, Latinos showed that they know how to vote.

Money didn't talk. Obama outspent Clinton on TV by more than 3 to 1 in Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island. Some would argue that the results would've been worse for Obama had he not spent so heavily, but going for the knockout by emptying the bank account didn't work.

Clinton's got chutzpah. Going into Tuesday, she was 0 for 11, lagged in delegates, was losing the money race big, but had talked the news media into giving her one more chance. We will now never hear the end of the knowing comment, "Never count the Clintons out."

She says the next state that matters is Pennsylvania, and the election night ringmasters at MSNBC and CNN followed dutifully, as did the rest of the media.

The next two states should be Obama's. Wyoming (18 delegates) is Saturday and a caucus; Obama is good at caucuses. Mississippi (40) is next Tuesday, and as Bill Clinton might say, Jesse Jackson won it in 1988. Translation: It has a lot of black voters.

The remaining states will be a wash. Of the states still to vote with sizeable delegate pools, she can win Pennsylvania (April 22; 187 delegates) and West Virginia (May 13; 39), although the delegate counts will be close. Obama should win North Carolina (May 6; 134) and Oregon (May 20; 65). Indiana (May 6; 84) is a toss-up.

She cannot win the nomination without a.) a gigantic blunder by Obama or b.) throwing so many bombs that the Democratic convention will look like Fallujah and neither she nor he can win the general election.

Who needs a House of Lords? This should be the end for superdelegates Democrats don't need party leaders to oversee their commoner impluses. Superdelegates never imagined, and neither did we, that fewer than 800 of them could pick a president.

Democrats must step lightly. If Obama is ahead in delegates, votes, and states and doesn't get the nomination because of the superdelegates, black Americans will see this as just another way the Man holds them down. They will stay home in droves on Nov. 4. Hello, President McCain.

Some unanswered questions: How will the candidates fill the six or seven weeks before Pennsylvania's primary?

Will the Democratic party (aka Howard Dean) hang tough in ruling that the Michigan and Florida primaries and delegates don't count? (Hillary and the networks consider them hers.)

Is there a place far enough away that, if Bill Clinton goes there, his voice cannot be heard?

Who's going to tell her to quit? She's been running for president since she moved to Arkansas in 1975. She put up with the appetites of a man who humiliated her more often than we know. She's witnessed her political death several times.

She just broke Obama's 11-contest winning streak by winning three out of four states. She's got money in the bank. But it is very, very unlikely she can win the nomination. Go ahead, you tell her.

Dan Payne is a Boston area media consultant who has worked for Democratic candidates around the country. He does political analysis for WBUR radio.

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