Going Off-track - Macleans.ca

Going Off-track

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With the series of victories throughout February, Senator Barack Obama entered March with strong momentum only to have it stalled in Ohio and Texas on March 4. Hillary Clinton’s impressive victory in Ohio and her squeaker in the Texas primary (she lost the Texas caucuses) brought her back to center ring. It was not long that the Clinton spin about Florida, Michigan and her ability to win the ‘big’ states made Obama suddenly appear vulnerable.

Obama had to win Wyoming and Mississippi, not only to temper the Clinton spin, but because he was expected to win. He won and won impressively. Now the Obama delegate lead is nearly as solid as it was before Texas and Ohio. The spotlight will soon shift to Pennsylvania and its primary on April 22. Clinton is favored to win but we know Obama performs well when given time. He has 6 weeks to narrow Clinton’s lead in the polls.

Both campaigns can claim legitimately to have made some gains since the beginning of March. But there is no big ‘mo’ on either side. At best we can call it a mini ‘mo’ for both candidates. Hillary clearly knows how to come back from adversity and ‘near-death’ political situations. Now, Obama must show his ability to face adversity. The rules favor Obama and his strong performance to date will make it difficult for Clinton to win the elected delegates race. While Clinton should not depend on super delegates to erase Obama’s advantage with elected delegates, Obama cannot lose his way to the nomination. In other words, he can lose a close one in Pennsylvania but he must win other key states like North Carolina and Indiana. If there are re-votes in Michigan & Florida, it will be a blow to his campaign if he loses both.

There is now a lull in the campaign. Clinton has thrown the ‘kitchen sink’ at Obama and has clearly bruised his candidacy even if he prevails. In so doing, should Clinton ultimately win the nomination in such circumstances, she too will come out bruised. In her case, however, her tarnished image will have been self inflicted because of negative campaigning.

The moment of truth will soon arrive. As this blog has stated, the capacity to win will be the deciding factor at the end of the day. Right now, it is fair to say that there are no real differences when it comes to policy proposals. In fact, a lot of controversies of late concerning surrogates such as Geraldine Ferraro and Pastor Wright seem to be percolating and creating distractions. Just the kind of politics that Americans seem to reject. Meanwhile, Republican Senator John McCain has a clear field and will soon be travelling and acting presidential.

The following weeks will be crucial not only for the eventual nominee but also for Democrats and their hope to recapture the White House. Regrettably, this campaign is now off track.

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