August 22, 2008


GOP: Here's to Hillary's big party!: Nothing would delight Republicans more than for the Clintons to upstage Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention. (Walter Shapiro, Aug. 22, 2008, Salon)

Bob Bennett, who has been chairman of the Ohio Republican Party for two decades, has a vision of what he wants to see on television at next week's Democratic National Convention: "When Hillary Clinton's name is placed in nomination, it will take over the emotional onus of the convention." The veteran party leader added with partisan anticipation in his voice, "I think the Clintons have already hijacked the convention -- and I can't wait to watch."

When leading Republicans who are not working on the fall presidential campaign were asked to sketch out the best possible scenario in Denver to boost John McCain, they kept uttering those fateful two words: "the Clintons." As GOP pollster John McLaughlin put it, "I'm rooting for the media's tendency to focus on how the Clintons have taken over Obama's convention." Republicans saw other potential pitfalls for Obama -- from delivering a vaporous acceptance speech to abandoning the safe center on policy issues -- but the conversations kept coming back to the woman who nearly won the nomination and the way she will play her hand in Denver. [...]

The political message in this situation would be the inherent weakness of Barack Obama. "The result would be that the Clintons ran the convention," Galen explained. "And it would look like Obama was only the nominee at the sufferance of the Clintons."

With Hillary Clinton being the featured Tuesday night attraction in Denver and Bill Clinton (plus the Hillary nomination speeches and roll call) on the docket for Wednesday night, the dethroned first couple of the Democratic Party will -- even if on good behavior -- cast an oversize shadow on Obama's ascension. Add a restive press corps eager for a hint of controversy to disrupt the no-news-here flow of a choreographed convention, and more than enough disgruntled Clinton delegates gleefully ready to log some TV air time, and you have all the necessary ingredients for combustion. [...]

The fault lines in the Democratic Party, which will be on display in Denver, are far more than a media concoction. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal national poll found that Obama has won the support of only 52 percent of former Clinton backers, with 27 percent still undecided (or opting for minor-party candidates) and 22 percent saying that they prefer McCain. Facing this persuasion gap, Obama has to cater publicly to the Clintons, even at the risk of losing control of the convention story line between Michelle Obama's Monday night meet-my-husband address and the nominee's fireworks-over-a-football-field acceptance speech on Thursday night.

At Rally, Finding Clinton’s Aid to Obama Too Tepid (DAMIEN CAVE, 8/22/08, NY Times)
Minutes after pushing through the rope line to thank Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for “all that you do,” Robin Shaffer said she was worried. She feared that the senator she respected and admired for being tough and experienced had not done all that she could to unify Florida’s fractured Democratic Party while campaigning here on Thursday for her former opponent.

“It was good that she said my supporters need to now support Barack Obama,” said Ms. Shaffer, 46, reflecting on Mrs. Clinton’s speech before about 700 people. But, she added, “I wanted her to repeat that one more time.”

Many who had supported Mrs. Clinton’s run for president shared Ms. Shaffer’s opinion. Democrats who said they had recently accepted that Mr. Obama, of Illinois, would be the Democratic presidential nominee greeted Mrs. Clinton’s 30-minute speech — her first rally in Florida on his behalf — with warmth but also demands for more.

If the Unicorn Rider were coasting to victory there would be pressure on Ms Clinton to kowtow to him just because he'll be her party leader. But no one gets politics better than her husband and if he's already determined that the nomination is not unlikely to be up for grabs four years from now and that she can help make that so, what incentive is there for her to come to Senator Obama's aid?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 22, 2008 7:17 AM
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