With her campaign in deep political and financial crisis, Hillary
Clinton needs a major breakthrough in tonight’s Texas debate.
Here she says she knows what it is to work the night shift.
** DEMOCRATS DEBATE. Oh, Hillary Clinton’s big showdown with Barack Obama down in the Lone Star State. Looks like a lone star. Short form: No game-changer for Hillary, i.e., advantage Obama, who was quite good, perhaps his best debate performance. She was good, too. Except for when she got booed with that silly “plagiarism” business again. Some of these incredibly over-priced consultants mis-advising her with their endless spin do her no favors.
** HEADING INTO THE TEXAS DEBATE. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were largely overshadowed today by the McCain/Times controversy and the storming of the US embassy in Belgrade. But here are some telling scenes leading into tonight’s debate at the University of Texas in Austin. ..
The Change To Win labor federation of seven unions representing 6 million workers endorsed Obama today. Change To Win chair Anna Burger said on a conference call that it’s time for Hillary to leave the race. Four of the member unions — the federation formed a few years ago in a split with the AFL-CIO — had previously endorsed Obama. … I hear Clinton Texas state chairman Garry Mauro is complaining that the national campaign is totally disorganized since February 5th and in the process of screwing up the Texas campaign. … Obama, who spent an hour touring the facilities of the University of Texas Longhorns with the team’s popular coach, picked up the endorsement of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson when he made a surprise introduction of Michelle Obama at an Ohio rally. … Former President Bill Clinton’s two-day fundraising expedition to California at the beginning of the week was far less than a panacea for the financially-challenged campaign. He raised $325,000 in his day in Southern California and “less than half a mil” in his day in Northern California.
** L’AFFAIRE MCCAIN/NYT: HOW IT’S PLAYING. Short form: Badly. For the New York Times. The talk show wing of the Republican far right has rallied to John McCain against the dread liberal MSM. The lefty/liberal blogoshphere is mostly expressing major qualms about the story, or ignoring it. With the notable exception of our friends at the Huffington Post, whose proprietor, my old friend Arianna Huffington, was once a huge fan/friend of the Western senator, who are playing up the scandal angle big-time.
And, contrary to Rush Limbaugh’s ramblings about how this shows the MSM is out to get any Republican no matter what, much, if not most, of the conventional media are openly expressing doubt about the New York Times story and its methods.
Team McCain’s take at the end of the day: “We feel good.”
** NEW TEXAS AND OHIO POLLS: LONE STAR DEAD HEAT, HILLARY STILL LEADS IN OHIO. The brand new ABC News polls have Barack Obama in a dead heat in Texas with Hillary Clinton, and closing the gap on her once huge lead in Ohio.
Here are the numbers. Texas: Clinton 48%, Obama 47%. Ohio: Clinton 50%, Obama 43%. Clinton, who trails by about 150 pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses to date, needs big wins in both states to climb back into a closely competitive position in the race.
In both states, Obama is now seen by primary voters as the more electable of the two in the fall. Hillary is seen as the stronger leader.
** A MCCAIN STORY IRONY, AND A BIG CALIFORNIA CONNECTION. No sooner do I acknowledge that the day’s media buzzing will be dominated by the John McCain controversy do thousands of Serbian protesters occupy the US embassy grounds in Belgrade and trash the embassy’s exterior. So that story is now crowding the McCain/New York Times story for screen space.
Serbs are upset by Kosovo’s declaration of independence. The best real time analysis award has to go to retired General Wes Clark, for his MSNBC analysis and commentary. As NATO commander, Clark played the lead role in winning the Kosovo War against Slobodan Milosevich in 1999. I’ve been on a few conference calls with Hillary Clinton and Wes Clark. Invariably, she defers my questions to Clark, who then answers impressively and thoughtfully, and then Hillary agrees with what he said. Clark would have been a top choice for VP with Clinton. With his own presidential campaign experience from 2004 (he won the Oklahoma primary) and tremendous on-camera skills, this highly decorated Vietnam combat vet, first in his class at West Point, Clark could also make a good running mate for Barack Obama.
Now to the California connection on the McCain story. The New Republic has a brand new story on the back story of the New York Times’ publication of the story. Some say the planned New Republic publication prompted the New York Times to publish late yesterday.
The New Republic reports that the Washington bureau chief of the Times, Dean Baquet, played the key managerial role in pushing the story forward, against the skepticism of Times editor Bill Keller.
What the New Republic piece doesn’t say, since it’s written by an Easterner, is that, prior to becoming the Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, Dean Baquet was the managing editor of the Los Angeles Times. And in his role at the LA Times, Baquet was deeply involved with and a key internal advocate of the late-breaking LA Times story during the 2003 California recall slamming Arnold Schwarzenegger.
That story proved to be a major backfire, as Schwarzenegger not only survived but went on to a landslide victory, with most not buying the convenient late timing of the story and its prior awareness by top Democrats. The LA Times and its influence has been on a steep downslope ever since.
I wonder if the McCain story will have a similar effect on the New York Times.
** OBAMA V. CLINTON: SHOWDOWN IN TEXAS. There is no question that the biggest buzzing today is going to be around the John McCain/New York Times controversy. But the biggest actual event of the day is the Democratic presidential debate tonight — 5 PM Pacific on CNN — between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is in big trouble, political and financial. She needs a game-changing event to prevent the further attrition of her campaign by the forces of Barack Obama.
The new financial filings with the Federal Elections Commission make clear that her campaign is in bad financial straits. At the end of January, she had a whopping $7.6 million debt. That did not include the $5 million she and husband Bill Clinton loaned to her campaign from a joint account. She also had millions more in cash on hand, as she deferred paying vendors around the country.
But Obama had a huge cash on hand edge, and there is no reason not to believe that his edge continues, notwithstanding claims from the Clinton campaign of great fundraising feats since then. I’ll have more on that later today.
This is why the much-rumored anti-Obama/pro-Clinton independent expenditure 527 committee dominated by California Democratic operatives backing Clinton, which I reported yesterday morning, has been launched.
So Clinton needs to get it going tonight. Unfortunately for her, since she has thrown so many charges at Obama already, it won’t be too hard for Obama and his team to anticipate and develop counters. Yet, something could happen. Which is why we watch.
** THE MCCAIN CONTROVERSY. Make no mistake, this story, which you already know about, though I’ve been sleeping through much of its emergence following the longest day Game Day package of Tuesday and Wednesday early morning, is about an implied illicit relationship with an attractive, much younger blonde telecommunications lobbyist. Here’s the Washington Post front page story on the controversy, which makes that obvious.
John and Cindy McCain held a press conference early this morning to address the allegations and reporting in the story and flatly deny them.
McCain senior advisor Steve Schmidt calls the story something that “belongs in the National Enquirer,” referring to it as filled with “rumor and innuendo.”
This may be a blessing in disguise for McCain, for the New York Times is hated by the right. It could actually help him unify his fractious Republican Party.
Assuming the story is wrong in its implications. I’ll be following this more closely during the day.
** OBAMA WINS DEMOCRATS ABROAD GLOBAL PRIMARY. Make that 11 wins in a row for Barack Obama. The returns are in from the first online global primary, held by the Democrats Abroad, and Obama again crushed Hillary Clinton, 66% to 33%.
Seven delegates were at stake in the primary which combined online voting, mail ballots, and some in-person voting.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
JOHN MCCAIN, after his hastily scheduled press conference early this morning with wife Cindy McCain to refute the bombshell New York Times story on his past relationship with a female lobbyist, has events in Toledo and Perrysburg, Ohio and tours the Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan.
MIKE HUCKABEE is campaigning in Texas today. He has a rally and fundraiser in Houston, visits the Alamo, and has a rally in San Antonio.
BARACK OBAMA participates in the CNN/Univision debate in Austin, Texas. He then holds a post-debate rally/fundraiser in Austin.
HILLARY CLINTON has an early vote event in Laredo this morning before participating in the CNN/Univision debate in Austin, Texas.
BILL CLINTON holds early vote events across Texas in San Antonio and San Angelo.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel.
You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND U.S. ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Crude oil is trading in the $99 to $100 per barrel range after hitting a record $101 per barrel yesterday.
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