10:13 pm PDT — Missippi Final, And Onward
In Mississippi, a big win for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, 60% to 38%. Coming on the heels of Obama’s 61% to 37% win in Wyoming on Saturday — and coupled with Obama actually winning the over Texas primary/caucus contest last Tuesday, as I projected for you a week ago — the upshot is that Obama is actually further ahead of Clinton in the Democratic nomination race than he was a week ago.
The Mississippi win was built on the most overwhelming black vote of the campaign, 91% to 9% for Obama, and a big edge for Hillary among the white vote, 71% to 27%. This has been the racial pattern in the Deep South primary states, with Obama getting about a quarter of the white vote, with the exception of Georgia. Georgia, of course, has Atlanta, a sprawlig cosmopolitan metropolis which has had a successful black leadership with a history of winning white votes. Obama has done much better with white voters in other Southern states, such as Virginia and Maryland.
Mississippi also continued the generation gap seen in contests throughout the campaign, with Obama dominating among voters under the age of 50, and Clinton doing best among older voters, with her strongest support among those 65 and up. The gender gap evident in most of the campaign was muted in Mississippi because of the racial factor.
CNN, incidentally has finally called the overall Texas contest held last Tuesday, the combination primary and caucuses known as the Texas Two-Step, for Obama.
I reported a week ago that Obama would be the winner there in the overall delegate race, narrowly losing the primary popular vote after Clinton unveiled her “3 AM” TV ad, and overwhelmingly winning the caucuses that night. Which turn out to be the biggest caucuses in presidential campaign history, with over one million people participating. Counting the caucuses was time-consuming, and the Clinton campaign moved on election night to block reporting of the partial count, in which Obama had a sizable lead.
In addition to ending up a few delegates further ahead among those won in the primaries and caucuses last Tuesday and this, Obama has also picked up many more superdelegates than Clinton over the past week.
How does Clinton win? I’ll get into all the particulars in the days and weeks ahead, but the answer boils down to this. The Clintons must screw up Obama. (Not precisely the term I had in mind.) Try to put him off balance, try to crack him, hope for mistakes — some of which come from some of the inexperienced hands in his campaign, as we saw last week with his economic and foreign policy advisors — typecast him as shallow, inexperienced, the black candidate.
In that regard, Geraldine Ferraro’s striking remarks, published at the end of last week in a small daily newspaper in Southern California but which only came to light today, offered a clue.
Ferraro, an affirmative action beneficiary herself as the first female vice presidential nominee of a major party, said that Obama is succeeding only because he is black. She ended the day by saying that people are criticizing her only because she is white. And that Hillary is behind because of sexism.
Hillary Clinton disassociated herself from Ferraro’s remarks, but did not separate Ferraro — a former New York congressman and failed Senate candidate who serves on her national finance committee and makes some speeches for the campaign — from her organization. Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams then defended Ferraro.
I think this is a major mistake by the Clinton campaign. While it may serve to further Obama’s identification as “the black candidate,” clearly one of their strategic imperatives now that they have lost the black vote — which Hillary had last year until black voters realized with his Iowa victory that whites could vote for Obama — it makes race and gender major flash points within the Democratic Party.
It might help lock down a victory for Clinton six weeks from now in Pennsylvania. After all, James Carville calls Pennsylvania “Philadelphia on one side, Pittsburgh on the other, and Alabama in between.” But Pennsylvania, as one of the oldest and most established of states, is already identified as a should-win state for Clinton, and her baseline level of support in the polls starting out is roughly 20 points, so it will be hard for Hillary’s team of spinners to win their usual expectations game.
A party which should be united, in a year which should be a good year for it, even against a war hero with the maverick appeal of John McCain, may find itself embroiled in a firestorm of internecine warfare.
Plus, it could easily backfire on the Clintons. It certainly did after South Carolina. Ferraro’s comments were actually not very clever, especially her parting shot of the day. And she makes it obvious that she thinks her constituency deserves more for its greater sense of victimhood, always an untoward sentiment to express in public, especially from someone rich and famous on behalf of someone rich and famous.
But all this will emerge, or not, over time.
Meanwhile, John McCain and company, after a big fundraiser tonight at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, contemplate many weeks if not months of civil war amongst the Democrats. If not quite the catbird seat, it is nonetheless a good place to be for the old pilot, excuse me, naval aviator.
6:15 pm PDT — Romney Says He’d Take McCain’s Vice Presidency
Incidentally, in another fascinating remark today by someone we haven’t heard from recently, Mitt Romney said he’d be happy to be John McCain’s vice president.
According to Politico blogger Jonathan Martin, Romney had this to say: “I think any Republican leader in this country would be honored to be asked to serve as the vice presidential nominee, myself included,” Romney told FOX’s Sean Hannity in a broadcast set to air tonight. “Of course this is a nation which needs strong leadership. And if the nominee of our party asked you to serve with him, anybody would be honored to receive that call … and to accept it, of course.”
What about those very hard feelings from the primaries?
“There are really no hard feelings, I don’t think, on either side of this,” Romney said in the interview.
Well, I might not turn down being John McCain’s vice president, either. But that’s also not too likely.
5:35 pm PDT — Obama Wins Mississippi
Fox News and MSNBC have projected Barack Obama a big winner in the Mississippi Democratic presidential over Hillary Clinton.
The exit poll horserace number, not yet reported: Obama 58%, Clinton 41%.
The black turnout was not actually as large as some expected. It amounted to 48% of the electorate.
Obama won the black vote, 91% to 9%. Clinton won the white vote, 72% to 27%.
67% of Mississippi voters said Obama was the most inspirational candidate. 61% said Obama offered the most detailed plans. Most voters picked the economy as the top area of concern, and Obama led Clinton on that issue, 54% to 45%.
4:45 pm PDT — The Ferraro Flap
While Mississippi has been unfolding, the candidates campaigning in Pennsylvania, the head of US Central Command quitting, and New York Governor Elliot Spitzer still not quitting, a blast from the past entered the media mixmaster.
Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman ever nominated on a major national ticket — the Democrats’ 1984 vice presidential nominee — is on the Hillary Clinton national finance committee. At the end of last week, the South Bay Daily Breeze, located south of LA, published an interview with her in which she complained about “sexism” being the cause of Clinton’s political problems and said that Barack Obama has become a surprising success because he is black.
Ferraro told the Daily Breeze: “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”
Hillary Clinton didn’t react to this at first. Later, as it flared up during the day, she said, “I do not agree with that. It’s regrettable that any of our supporters — on both sides, because we both have this experience — say things that kind of veer off into the personal.”
Ferraro also said Obama has it easy because of a “very sexist media.”
“I think what America feels about a woman becoming president takes a very secondary place to Obama’s campaign – to a kind of campaign that it would be hard for anyone to run against,” she said. “For one thing, you have the press, which has been uniquely hard on her. It’s been a very sexist media.
The Obama campaign, which said sayonara to senior foreign policy advisor Samantha Power last Friday after she told the British press that Hillary is a “monster” and that Obama would not necessarily follow his current Iraq withdrawal timetable, pounced on this.
“The bottom line is this, when you wink and nod at offensive statements, you’re really sending a signal to your supporters that anything goes,” Obama chief strategist David Axelrod declared in a conference call.
“There’s no other way to send a serious signal that you want to police the tone of this campaign,” he said. “And if you don’t do those things then you are simply adding to the growing compendium of evidence that you really are encouraging that.”
Ferraro, back in the spotlight years after her moment of glory, went on Fox News to say that Obama’s campaign should stop criticizing her, because he’d need her to raise money for him in the fall. Then she called the Daily Breeze back and said: “I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white.”
Over on the left, Kos said: “Ferraro is unhappy that people are calling b.s. on her suggestion that Obama is winning only because he’s black (which clearly was a huge advantage for Presidents Jackson and Sharpton). This is officially really bad for Clinton.
“The Obama campaign quickly removed a relatively obscure adviser for calling Clinton the apparently dreaded and beyond-the-pale “M” word. How does Clinton react to Ferraro’s race baiting? She turns around and accuses Obama of playing the race card.”
Actually, it was Clinton’s new campaign manager, Maggie Williams, who did that.
In the center/center-right, Mickey Kaus said: “True statement (a.k.a. a Kinsley gaffe). And if Geraldine Ferraro was Gerald Ferraro, she’d be an unknown hack ex-Congressman, not a pathbreaking former vice-presidential candidate.”
What do I say? Well, I’m more interested in other stuff. Having said that, I cast my national convention delegate vote to make Ferraro the first major party female vice presidential nominee. A distinction she got simply because of her gender.
So, she should know about affirmative action. And might want to consider the irony of her position.
Which has one huge difference with that of Obama. Ferraro didn’t win anything other than a New York congressional seat. She was picked by powerful men to try to make a play for the female vote.
Obama is succeeding on his own hook.
4:14 pm PDT — More Mississippi Exits
More from from Mississippi primary exit polls …
65 years of age and older: Clinton 56%, Obama 44%
17-29 years of age: Obama 67%, Clinton 32%
One in five Democratic voters are independents. One in 10 are Republicans.
The Democratic primary is drawing twice as many voters as the Republican primary.
Some bad news for Obama’s hopes to carry Mississippi in the general election, if he’s the nominee. Some experts think the old Confederate state could go blue, with a huge mobilization effort of the black vote. A lot of Clinton voters say they wouldn’t be satisfied with him.
3:00 pm PDT — Mississippi Exits
From the Mississippi primary exit polls …
Who made the most unfair attacks?
Hillary Clinton 70%, Barack Obama 30%.
Who is the most honest and trustworthy candidate?
Barack Obama 60%, Hillary Clinton 39%.
Who is the most credible commander-in-chief?
Barack Obama 55%, Hillary Clinton 45%.
1:40 pm PDT — Bill Clinton Does It Again
The Hotline blog reports that former President Bill Clinton, campaigning up in Pennsylvania, has set a high bar for his wife’s showing there in the April 22nd primary.
“She’s got to win a big victory” here, he told a group of older voters in a senior citizen center in Western Pennsylvania. “If she wins a big, big victory in Pennsylvania, I think it’ll give her a real big boost going into the next primaries.”
Clinton promised that he and Hillary and daughter Chelsea will be all over Pennsylvania “like a wet blanket between now and April 22nd.”
Like a wet blanket?
Clinton sent up a big trial balloon Saturday in Pass Christian, Mississippi, saying he wants to see Obama on the national ticket with his wife. Then he took two days off the campaign trail. Only to see Obama shoot that balloon down yesterday. Along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who says that since Hillary says John McCain is a better choice for commander-in-chief, the contradiction is too glaring.
12:50 pm PDT — Back and Forth In The Land of Penn
While Mississippi votes, and I’m hearing the early turnout seemed on the low side, perhaps due to morning rain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama slog away today in Pennsylvania.
Clinton ripped into Obama, saying: “I understand Senator Obama is talking about energy today, right here in Pennsylvania. And that’s great. But talking about problems is easy. Solving problems is hard. And speeches are no substitute for solutions. Speeches won’t lower gas prices, stop climate change, or lessen our dependence on oil from Saudi Arabia.
“The true test comes when it’s time to match rhetoric with results,” said Clinton. “And unfortunately, we’ve seen that Senator Obama’s promises and speeches are often just words.”
Clinton went on to blast Obama for voting for “Dick Cheney’s energy bill loaded with new tax breaks for oil companies.” Which, of course, passed.
She blasted him also for talking about fixing NAFTA, while “his top economic adviser assured the Canadian government that he wouldn’t really follow through.” Which the Canadian government actually denies.
And for promising to withdraw from Iraq “within 16 months. But his top foreign policy adviser said he’s not really going to rely on that plan. I guess that plan is just words, too.”
For his part, Obama toured a wind turbine factory — where he refused to comment on 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro’s (she’s a big Hillary backer) attack on him as a lucky candidate for being black — and held a town hall meeting.
“We need real change – the kind of change that’s about more than switching the party in the White House,” Obama said. “We need a change in our politics – a leader who can end the division in Washington so we can stop just talking about our challenges and start solving them; who doesn’t defend lobbyists as part of the system, but sees them as part of the problem; who actually says what he means and means what he says; and who will be a voice for middle class Americans every day for the next four years.”
Obama talked up his plan to build up a “green” energy sector to replace jobs lost in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, said he would “fix” NAFTA, and stop tax breaks for companies that out-source jobs.
10:51 am PDT — That “Harrowing” Bosnia Trip (With Sinbad and Sheryl Crow)
The “Sleuth” blog at WashingtonPost.com scored an amusing interview with comedian Sinbad. Who accompanied Hillary Clinton, along with singer Sheryl Crow, on an increasingly famous trip to Bosnia.
Sinbad, along with singer Sheryl Crow, was on that 1996 trip to Bosnia that Clinton has described as a harrowing international experience that makes her tested and ready to answer a 3 a.m. phone call at the White House on day one, a claim for which she’s taking much grief on the campaign trail.
Harrowing? Not that Sinbad recalls. He just remembers it being a USO tour to buck up the troops amid a much worse situation than he had imagined between the Bosnians and Serbs.
In an interview with the Sleuth Monday, he said the “scariest” part of the trip was wondering where he’d eat next. “I think the only ‘red-phone’ moment was: ‘Do we eat here or at the next place.'”
Clinton, during a late December campaign appearance in Iowa, described a hair-raising corkscrew landing in war-torn Bosnia, a trip she took with her then-teenage daughter, Chelsea. “They said there might be sniper fire,” Clinton said.
Threat of bullets? Sinbad doesn’t remember that, either.
“I never felt that I was in a dangerous position. I never felt being in a sense of peril, or ‘Oh, God, I hope I’m going to be OK when I get out of this helicopter or when I get out of his tank.'”
In her Iowa stump speech, Clinton also said, “We used to say in the White House that if a place is too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the First Lady.”
Say what? As Sinbad put it: “What kind of president would say, ‘Hey, man, I can’t go ’cause I might get shot so I’m going to send my wife…oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.'”
10:22 PDT — Clinton Tries To Shore Up Her National Security Bona Fides
The Hillary Clinton campaign has pushed back against the hard Obama shots on her claims of major experience in national security affairs.
On Northern Ireland, the Clinton campaign says this: “The Obama campaign claims George Mitchell, the person in charge of the investigation, supports their view that Hillary’s claims about Northern Ireland are exaggerated. John Hume, who won the Nobel Prize for Peace for his work on Northern Ireland: “I can state from firsthand experience that she played a positive role for over a decade in helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland… Anyone criticizing her foreign policy involvement should look at her very active and positive approach to Northern Ireland and speak with the people of Northern Ireland who have the highest regard for her and are very grateful for her very active support for our peace process.”
(Hume, incidentally, shared the Nobel Peace Prize with someone who says that it is “silly” for Hillary to claim a central role on Northern Ireland.)
“George Mitchell, who is cited in the Obama memo as an authoritative source, told Katie Couric last night that Hillary played “a helpful and supportive role” in Northern Ireland that ended up making “a difference in the process.” …
On Kosovo, the Clinton campaign gets a testimonial from Richard Holbrooke, the actual negotiator of the Dayton Accords, who says: “It was dire in May 1999 when Hillary Clinton arrived in Macedonia. The government of Macedonia had slowed the flow of refugees from Kosovo to a trickle. After visiting refugees and gaining a first-hand assessment of the situation, the First Lady had intense talks with President Gligorov and Prime Minister Georgievski. In these talks, one in the Presidential Palace, another in the residence of the American Ambassador, Christopher Hill, Mrs. Clinton pressed the Macedonian government to fully open the border so that Kosovar Albanian refugees could flee the war zone to safety. She also committed herself to work with the government and people of Macedonia who also faced an emergency because of the threat to their own safety and stability. Hillary Clinton promised to take action to help the Macedonian economy. Returning to Washington, she pressed hard in the administration for action to support the Macedonians.”
The Clinton pushback memo doesn’t really debunk the debunking from President Clinton’s impeachment lawyer, though it does reiterate that she was on the scene on some key issues as an advocate.
Advantage Obama on this.
But in a larger sense, it’s advantage John McCain.
10:04 PDT — Debunking Clinton National Security Claims
The Barack Obama campaign is playing tougher now with Hillary Clinton. Greg Craig, a top Obama foreign policy advisor now, was Bill Clinton’s lawyer during his impeachment crisis. He was also the director of the Policy Planning Office in the U.S. State Department during the Clinton Administration.
He’s just penned a very tough memo debunking Hillary Clinton’s claims of experience in national security management.
“When your entire campaign is based upon a claim of experience, it is important that you have evidence to support that claim. Hillary Clinton’s argument that she has passed “the Commander- in-Chief test” is simply not supported by her record.
“There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton played an important domestic policy role when she was First Lady. It is well known, for example, that she led the failed effort to pass universal health insurance. There is no reason to believe, however, that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton Administration. She did not sit in on National Security Council meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not attend meetings in the Situation Room. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy, nor did she have her own national security staff. She did not do any heavy-lifting with foreign governments, whether they were friendly or not. She never managed a foreign policy crisis, and there is no evidence to suggest that she participated in the decision-making that occurred in connection with any such crisis. As far as the record shows, Senator Clinton never answered the phone either to make a decision on any pressing national security issue – not at 3 AM or at any other time of day.
On Northern Ireland, Craig cites new British press reports debunking Clinton’s claims of having played a central role in bringing about peace in Northern Ireland.
“Senator Clinton has said, “I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland.” It is a gross overstatement of the facts for her to claim even partial credit for bringing peace to Northern Ireland. She did travel to Northern Ireland, it is true. First Ladies often travel to places that are a focus of U.S. foreign policy. But at no time did she play any role in the critical negotiations that ultimately produced the peace. As the Associated Press recently reported, “[S]he was not directly involved in negotiating the Good Friday peace accord.” With regard to her main claim that she helped bring women together, she did participate in a meeting with women, but, according to those who know best, she did not play a pivotal role. The person in charge of the negotiations, former Senator George Mitchell, said that “[The First Lady] was one of many people who participated in encouraging women to get involved, not the only one.”
“News of Senator Clinton’s claims has raised eyebrows across the ocean. Her reference to an important meeting at the Belfast town hall was debunked. Her only appearance at the Belfast City Hall was to see Christmas lights turned on. She also attended a 50-minute meeting which, according to the Belfast Daily Telegraph’s report at the time, “[was] a little bit stilted, a little prepared at times.” Brian Feeney, an Irish author and former politician, sums it up: “The road to peace was carefully documented, and she wasn’t on it.””
Craig also works to debunk Clinton claims on Rwanda (where she now says she privately US intervention, which did not occur to stop the genocide), Bosnia and Kosovo.
On Kosovo, Craig writes: “Senator Clinton has said, “I negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo.” It is true that, as First Lady, she traveled to Macedonia and visited a Kosovar refugee camp. It is also true that she met with government officials while she was there. First Ladies frequently meet with government officials. Her claim to have “negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo,” however, is not true. Her trip to Macedonia took place on May 14, 1999. The borders were opened the day before, on May 13, 1999.”
Obambi no more?
9:18 pm PDT — Where They Are Today, And Why
While voters turn out in the Mississippi Democratic presidential primary — where turnout is expected to be big, and the weather is mostly mild, with temperatures in the 50s and some rain — the candidates themselves have moved on to Pennsylvania today. Which doesn’t vote for another six weeks. Hillary Clinton has a big lead there, a natural state for her with an older population and traditional constituencies. She needs a big win to keep up her candidacy, and that is why she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, are spending the day there.
Meanwhile, John McCain is trying to shore up support in Missouri, a key swing state in the fall, and hoping to score some badly needed funding later in the day in New York City.
BARACK OBAMA tours a former steel mill-turned-wind turbine farm in Pennsylvania, then does a town hall meeting in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania.
HILLARY CLINTON has rallies in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
BILL CLINTON has events across Pennslyvania, in Washington, Canonburg, and Center Township.
JOHN MCCAIN has a town hall meeting and press conference in St. Louise, Missouri, and then heads to New York City for needed fundraising, topped by a big event tonight at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
06:45 am PDT — Game Day
It’s another contest in the now long slog for the Democratic presidential nomination, as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton square off today in the Mississippi primary. Obama is the favorite, but former President Bill Clinton has been stumping there to see if his wife might make a breakthrough, or at least have a good showing after losing badly in Wyoming on Saturday.
Nevertheless, Obama does have the opportunity to come out of today’s primary with a bigger lead over Clinton in earned delegates than he had before last Tuesday’s contests. Which is the exact opposite of what the Clinton campaign hoped for and promised.
Mississippi, a Deep South state along the Gulf of Mexico that was part of the core of the old Confederacy, has a population of 2.9 million. Once a state with an African American majority, today it is 61% white and 37% black. Mississippi has the lowest per capita income of any state in the US, and is increasingly dependent on casino gambling.
In politics, it’s usually conservative. Governor Haley Barbour is a former Republican national chairman. The two US senators are Republicans. While two of its four congressmen are Democrats, one of whom is black, the other is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress.
Although former Governor Ray Mabus, a Democrat, thinks Obama might win the state in the general election, that’s not the way it’s been going in presidential races. In today’s Democratic primary, over half the voters are expected to be black.
At his event yesterday morning in Columbus, Mississippi, Barack Obama, whose campaign may be stiffening its spine in a more supple way today – I believe that some of his famous supporters have gotten together today and chatted with the Obama campaign leadership – rejected the Bill and Hillary Clinton gambit to have him on the national ticket. As the veep to Hillary, who of course trails by a significant margin despite last week’s comeback of sorts.
“Now first of all with all due respect, with all due respect,” he said during a town hall meeting. “I have won twice as many states as Senator Clinton. I have won more of the popular vote than Senator Clinton. I have more delegates than Senator Clinton. So I don’t know how someone in second place can offer the vice presidency to someone in first place. If I was in second place I could understand but I am in first place.”
In 1992, he noted, Bill Clinton, now touting him for vice president, said that the “most important criteria” for vice president was that that person must be ready to “be commander in chief.”
“They have been spending the last two or three weeks saying I am not ready. I don’t understand. If I am not ready, why do you think I would be such a great vice president? I don’t understand.
“You have to make a choice,” Obama said, shooting down the notion. “Are you going to stick with the past, or are you going to move to the future?”
Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama mocks the Clintons for saying he would make a great vice president.
“She’s only doing this because she’s behind and she doesn’t have any toys,” noted Fox News commentator Kimberly Guilfoyle, San Francisco’s former first lady as the former wife to Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has been campaigning for Hillary and is fooling around with the idea of running for governor of California.
Former President Bill Clinton stumped the state for his wife over the weekend and appeared in Meridian Saturday night with novelist John Grisham.
The ex-prez, after savaging the freshman Illinois senator earlier in the campaign, called for a Clinton/Obama ticket at a rally in Pass Christian. Clinton, now that he has toned down his bad cop routine, is getting good results again for his wife.
The conventional media has pushed a storyline that Bill Clinton is locked in a closet. Actually, he has been campaigning feverishly and effectively in midsized and small markets. If you look at his schedule in Ohio and Texas, it coincides with the best-performing areas for his wife. He’s still a very huge deal with Democrats around the country, and having a former president show up outside the elite media markets is impactful.
With how he’s been campaigning since Tuesday, it’s obvious that Clinton thinks he can have an impact in Mississippi, which is expected nonetheless to go to Obama.
How’s it going? Well, there are three new polls. One, by Insider Advantage for the Southern Political Report, showed a relatively small Obama lead over Clinton, 46% to 40%, on March 6th.
But on March 9th, the Insider Advantage poll had Obama extending his lead over Clinton, 54% to 37%.
This poll has major racial polarization, with Clinton way ahead among white voters, 65% to 24%, and Obama way ahead among black voters, 75% to 16%.
And the new Rasmussen robopoll has Obama well ahead of Clinton, 53% to 39%.