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The Obama Prairie Fire. Do the Clintons Have any More Firewalls?

Obama momentum looks very difficult to stop. He is constantly outdrawing Hillary from 2 to 1 to 4 to 1 in crowds, wherever they are together in the same state as occurred recently in Washington and Maine; the latter was supposed to be her latest firewall, as she had campaigned there through the fall, and took the caucus seriously.

Now that the campaign is in extra time; it is not so much organization, since neither side has much organization in these new states but the enthusiasm and passion of their supporters that is the key. This is the new type of 'trench warfare' that favors Obama...From a Obama volunteer organizer 'Dispatch from the WA state caucuses: it wasn't about the ground game'.

But I guarantee that if you had been in WA (and sounds like, in Maine) you would have had a sense of awe, as the Obama "organizers" did themselves, that these huge streams and gouts of voters were arriving in droves, way beyond anyone's expectation or ability to "organize" it. Every caucus location, despite planning for record turnout, was far, far too tiny to contain the crowds. Fire marshals ended up having a bigger impact that campaign organizers. It's something spontaneous, and it is not people changing their minds and deciding to vote for Barack instead of Hillary. It is people coming out and who normally would not. It's a phenomenon, not the result of organization.

I was the only "organizer" for Obama, and I did almost nothing -- nor could I. We were simply swamped with people....

As I say, it's a small point. And it's also dealing with a phenomenon (no longer just regional) no one expected or entirely understands, least of all me. I merely observed it, but so did a lot of other people, including journalists. To ascribe what's happening to "organization" is to miss the story...

I'm reminded of what John Keegan writes about war: It is not the physical destruction of the enemy that one seeks, but the destruction of his morale.

But as people realize the Clinton are fighters, they are not going to give up, not in 92 when the Jennifer Flowers revelations or the Perot candidacy seemed to imperil the Bill Clinton campaign. James Fallows: "And of course not during the long years in the White House. It is what makes them -- and her candidacy -- even now so formidable".

In my previous post, I quoted a Telegraph heading that "the Clintons were in panic"..That's not exactly true but they must be in 'a state of shock' and have brought in another tested, vetted general from 'Hillaryland' to manage their campaign Maggie Williams "She knows more than how to make the trains run on time. She knows how to break some heads."

But the Clintons are facing a diferent type of politics, a movement, 'no huddle' politics and it may not be possible to break enough heads and there are too many to break..And furthermore, it may be too late to change tactics

But for all the efforts to expand the operation, Democratic strategists said the Clinton campaign remains opaque, even to those on the outside willing to be helpful. "They have more walls around them than you've seen in many castles," said one prominent Democrat.

I just don't know where the Clintons can make their stand...Texas maybe, Pennsylvania ..the Democrat grandees? It is getting late.

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Comments (5)

Lee Ward:

Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania is where the Clinton folks hope to prevail. That has been the plan going forward.

It's got some people worried that this plan is too much like Giuliani's "last stand" plan for Florida -- which failed him, miserably.

One thing is clear, if Clinton does prevail and carry the largest share of delegates into the convention she'll have earned it. She's the underdog at this point.

And something you suggested last week, Steve, is starting to resonate for me. A redo of the Michigan and Florida primaries would possibly end up giving either Clinton or Obama the needed delegates for one of them to win the nomination, thereby avoiding a brokered and contentious, and possibly party-splitting, Democratic convention.

In addition to including those states' voters in the process, if it would settle the race one way or the other then it may be the right answer.

Steve Crickmore[TypeKey Profile Page]:

I agree Lee. That seems the best solution. I think it would be a win-win situation for the Democrats. Michigan would probably give a slight advantage to Obama and Florida to Clinton, but unless they redo them there will be a great deal of rancor and the potential for a huge credentials fight in August.

The whole point of the dispute was that the two states on their own went ahead and jump started the primary schedule. So Michigan and Florida will have paid their penalty by going later, than everyone else. Obama by agreeing or initiating the idea would demonstrate that he may be a different type of politician and if the reverse happens and Hillary takes the initiative she will show that she is just as fair, if not fairer than Obama. I understand there would be a squabble about whether they might be caucus or primary or some combination and who will pay for them, but these are only logistical questions.

As a corollary, Obama has been talking a lot by phone with the leaders of Kenya over their disputed rigged election... So far no progress..Obama should try and influence them to replay that one, and publicly suggest it, as well.

Here are two areas where Obama could show that as the candidate of change, he really is different, but he hasn't done it so far.

Lee Ward:

Since Clinton has a small but perceptible advantage in the case of Michigan and Florida - since she won both (however tainted the win might be) I don't know if she'll be the one to suggest it.

And until the Obama camp perceive that it would be to their advantage -- as in they'd win more than they lose -- I don't think we'll see Obama suggest it.

But facing the prospect of a looming, bloody battle on the convention floor, Howard Dean might decide its the best thing to do, specially if both Obama and Clinton perceive some slight advantage to settle this via redoing these two primaries instead of fighting over the results of the current Florida and Michigan results.

Steve Crickmore:

I have to think that Obama, especially now with the momentum, would do much better than the uncommitted in the first Michigan primary that Clinton won 55 to 40% over uncommitted. I suppose the two candidates will see how the Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas primaries play out first. They probably think they have enough on their plate for the moment ..but down the road, it's quite possible we will have those two new primaries.

Lee Ward:

I have to agree that - today - Obama would fare well in Michigan, and achieve better results in Florida, so the advantage to doing this is tilting in his favor, but they'd do the math first. If Hillary would pick up any advantage they'll oppose it.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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