Barack Obama bagged the endorsements of John Kerry and Arizona governor Janet Napolitano last week. Now, he is picking up two more endorsements from some red state senators: Nebraska's Ben Nelson and Missouri's Claire McCaskill. Listen to Ben Nelson's reasoning as reported by the Huffington Post:
Nelson said Saturday he believes Obama has ability to bridge the partisan divide and to carry Democratic candidates across the country to victory in 2008. Nelson, pledging his support for his Illinois colleague, said Obama has "the greatest potential to ending the bitterness and poisonous atmosphere in Washington."
And what is Claire McCaskill's reasoning as explained on Shailagh Murray's blog?
McCaskill's homestate is one of the hardest fought in politics, narrowly divided along partisan lines and with large constituencies of suburban, rural, black, evangelical, and college-age voters -- the ultimate electoral treasure trove. The senator's decision to support Obama underscores concerns expressed by some Democrats in hard-to-win states like Missouri, that Clinton has limited crossover appeal beyond the party faithful and limited ability to bridge the partisan divide in Washington.
"I have kind of staked a tent in the middle ground and with some frequency I ran into Barack Obama there," MacCaskill said of her Senate tenure. She called him a "once in a generation" leader and "a gust of fresh air. He is different. He is not like most of the politicians in Washington."
McCaskill and Nelson are no dummies and they have surely not been duped by Obama's airy rhetoric. They are smart and talented politicians who undoubtedly have one singular concern above all others: survival. They realize that a Democratic ticket headed by Hillary Clinton is going to energize the Republican base and increase turnout among conservative voters damaging Democratic candidates up and down the ticket. A Clinton presidency, should it occur, would also give a boost to the Republicans in the 2010 midterm election. I am certain that neither Nelson or McCaskill are looking forward to the prospect of potentially becoming the minority party again in the Senate.
Bill Clinton was wrong about calling a vote for Obama a "roll of the dice". Increasingly, Obama looks like the odd-on favorite against whoever the Republicans throw up against us. Hillary, on the other hand, is weaker in the head-to-head polling and has real difficulties pulling support from independents who, as we know, decide all presidential elections. To think that an extraordinarily well-known politician like Hillary can somehow turn around independents to vote for her in large numbers is whistlin' Dixie. There is no way that Hillary can turn around the negative perceptions that a large segment of the electorate have about her. Those attitudes are set in stone.
Obama, on the other hand, has demonstrated the ability to appeal to independents and carries none of the baggage of the Clinton era. More and more Democrats, like Nelson and McCaskill, are realizing that's going to be a big advantage against the Republicans come November.
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