Friday, April 18, 2008

Dean's thumb on the scales

Obama bombs in a debate, and suddenly somebody is not willing to wait until the primary voters have their say:
An increasingly firm Howard Dean told CNN again Thursday that he needs superdelegates to say who they’re for – and “I need them to say who they’re for starting now.”
“We cannot give up two or three months of active campaigning and healing time,” the Democratic National Committee Chairman told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “We’ve got to know who our nominee is.”
Dean's hostility toward the Clinton machine is well known so his push for an early commitment is intended to help Obama. The superdelegates aren't helping Hillary:
[I]nterviews on Thursday with a cross-section of these superdelegates — members of Congress, elected officials and party leaders — showed that none had been persuaded much by her attacks on Mr. Obama’s strength as a potential Democratic nominee, his recent gaffes and his relationships with his former pastor and with a onetime member of the Weather Underground.
In fact, the Obama campaign announced endorsements from two more superdelegates on Thursday, after rolling out three on Wednesday and two others since late last week in what appeared to be a carefully orchestrated show of strength before Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary.
If the Democratic presidential race were a poker game, by now you'd have to suspect that Barack Obama's campaign is dealing from the bottom of the deck: Rarely a day goes by when it doesn't slap another ace down on the table. The aces in this (possibly strained) metaphor are endorsements, and it often seems as if the Obama operation has an inexhaustible supply at its disposal. In the past week alone, it has announced the support of congressmen from North Carolina and Indiana; the Utah state party chair; the Oklahoma state party's chief fundraiser; 25 South Dakota state legislators; the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers; and, not least, The Boss. Some of these endorsers are super-delegates, and thus of no small consequence to the outcome of the race. Others are simply window-dressing, deployed to create a sense of ineluctable momentum in Obama's direction. But none have the particular resonance of the endorsement that's coming -- unbeknownst to the campaign -- a little later today.
The endorsement in question is that of Robert Reich, Bill Clinton's first Secretary of Labor and a friend of both the former president and his wife for four decades. Around 1:00pm EST, Reich informs me, he intends formally to declare his support for Obama on his blog.
Robert Reich, the Red Dwarf. A small endorsment, as it were. Despite all this strategic pressure from Dean and the Obama campaign, Hillary still sees hope:
With Sen. Hillary Clinton widely expected to win Pennsylvania's Democratic primary on Tuesday, most of the focus is on the margin. Anything less than a double-digit victory could solidify the perception that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is the inevitable Democratic nominee, sparking a flow of superdelegates to his side.
But even if Sen. Clinton wins strongly, she still will remain behind in delegates, so her goal must be to change the dynamic of the race, raising doubts about Sen. Obama's ability to carry states like Pennsylvania and lifting her chances of replicating the win in Indiana on May 6.
Most important, a strong Clinton victory would send a message to the superdelegates -- whose support she needs to win the nomination -- or might at least persuade them to stay neutral longer to see if a similar pattern plays out through May.
When I saw Hillary in Greensburg, Pa., last month, I was impressed with her apparent determination to stick it out all the way to the convention. She may lose, but she won't quit. That's an important distinction, and she'd rather be a loser than a quitter.

(Links via Memeorandum.) Pro-Hillary blogger Taylor Marsh also sees Dean's move as a "freaked out" reaction to the debate.

UPDATE: Further evidence of the debate freakout motive from, which declares that the ABC News moderators "hurt the country" by asking Obama tough questions. Michelle Malkin:
The Soros water-carriers say they will run an ad against ABC -- Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulous photoshopped as Hitler and Eva Braun? Nah, too subtle -- if they gather 100,000 signatures.
Ah, now we see the puppet strings. Remember in 2004 when declared their ownership of the Democratic Party and installed Howard Dean as DNC chief? That alliance is now trying to push Hillary out of the race, so the Deaniacs can avenge his 2004 primary defeat. It's like George McGovern's nomination '72 vindicating the Gene McCarthy '68 campaign. If the analogy holds true, that means John McCain is . . . Richard Nixon?
Dean can only stop this runaway train if he can convince one candidate or the other to withdraw. If Hillary wins Pennsylvania by anything more than three points, he won’t have a prayer of succeeding.

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