Posted: February 14, 2008 4:07 PM
Clinton, Fighting for Delegates, Targets Economy in Ohio
Sen. Hillary Clinton swept through Ohio this week, setting the stage for what many in her campaign have said is a must-win battle against her Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama as the race boils down to who can win the most delegates.
After Obama racked up eight consecutive wins after his sweep in the Potomac primaries, he surpassed Clinton in delegate counts compiled by many news organizations — but her campaign maintains that it’s too-close-to-call.
“This election will come down to delegates,” an e-mail from Clinton’s chief campaign strategist Mark Penn read. “Votes are still being counted and delegates apportioned, but Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are separated by approximately 40 delegates right now — that is, barely 1 percent of all the delegates to the Democratic convention.”
Her campaign is also pushing for the delegates from her wins in Michigan and Florida to count, which would add 178 to her total. The Democratic National Committee stripped both states of all their delegates as punishment for moving their nominating contests before Feb. 5.
The demographic makeup of Ohio, where 41 percent of voters are white women and of Texas, where 25 percent of voters are Latino — favor Clinton, Penn’s memo explained, but recent data has shown Clinton’s lead among her core groups narrowing.
In Ohio, she has the backing of several of the state’s leading Democrats, including Gov. Ted Strickland, astronaut and former Sen. John Glenn, and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, the first black woman elected to Congress from Ohio. Her message continues to target economic concerns in a state hit hard by foreclosures and struggling with a 6 percent unemployment rate, one of the nation’s highest.
“Some days, it probably feels like the perfect storm. You fill up your tank, and that’s two twenties from your wallet. You pick up a gallon of milk and a few other things — and there goes another. You try to fill your child’s prescription, and they tell you, “Sorry, that’s no longer covered.” After a while, you feel like a human ATM — with all the money going the wrong way. That’s why I’m here in Youngstown — because that’s what this election is about: It’s about you. It’s about your lives, your dreams, your future. I know that here at GM, you’ve had serious losses. But we can’t ever give up on our manufacturers and manufacturing jobs. No one should ever have to leave their family to earn a living,” Cinton said at a General Motors plant in Youngstown, Ohio, Thursday morning.
She will continue her Ohio tour to Dayton and Columbus on Thursday and Lyndhurst on Friday campaigning with Strickland, Glenn and Tubbs-Jones.
If a clear winner has not emerged after March 4, the race may come down to a battle over super delegates.
“You know, she’s got no place else to go [after Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania],” said Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin on the NewsHour. “And if she doesn’t win there, I think the ranks of the super delegates and other party leaders will begin to close around Obama, and he will distance himself. And with a system of proportional representation, if you fall behind, there’s no way for a second-place candidate to catch up.”
Polling from early February in Wisconsin shows Obama ahead while several polls in Ohio give leads to Clinton. A Quinnipac poll put her ahead in both Ohio and Pennsylvania, with a 55 to 34 percent lead in Ohio and a 52 to 36 percent lead in Pennsylvania.
“Ohio is as good a demographic fit for Sen. Clinton as she will find. It is blue-collar America, with a smaller percentage of both Democrats with college educations and African- Americans than in many other states where Sen. Obama has carried the day,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “If Clinton can’t win the primary there, it is very difficult to see how she stops Obama.”
Clinton has flooded the airways with several ads in Wisconsin, Ohio and Texas. A spot airing in Wisconsin called Debate attacks Obama for refusing to a Wisconsin debate. “Maybe he’d prefer to give speeches than have to answer questions,” a narrator reads. “Wisconsin deserves to hear both candidates debate the issues that matter.”
In Texas, a Clinton ad targeted veterans: “For every soldier who serves so bravely over there but is ignored over here, she hears you. For every National Guard and Reservist who leaves their family behind, she hears you. That’s why Hillary Clinton reached across the aisle, to expand access to health care for the National Guard, and is pushing to protect the bonuses of wounded soldiers.”
Clinton will be in Wisconsin Saturday, Feb. 16 through Tuesday.