Posted: February 5, 2008 3:06 PM
Looking to Lower Expectations, Obama Team Looks Beyond Feb. 5
Even with polls showing an increasingly tight race in the larger states set to vote Tuesday, the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama has made it clear that Feb. 5 will likely not produce a clear front-runner in the Democratic contest and that they are already planning for primaries weeks off.
Obama continues to make ground in such key states as California, New Jersey and Missouri, areas where “Sen. Hillary Clinton” once dominated in the polls. If Tuesday’s results fail to define a leading Democratic nominee, the race is expected to push ahead into mid-February and early March where more than a dozen states will vote.
Campaign manger, David Plouffe downplayed Tuesday’s significance and explained the expectations behind the Obama camp in a recent memo to reporters: “Our path to the nomination never factored in a big day for us on February 5th. Rather, we always planned to stay close enough in the delegate count so that we could proceed to individually focus on the states in the next set of contests.”
Still, the candidates have set out on a whirlwind tour, campaigning ahead of Super Tuesday. Having proven successful among white voters in Iowa and black voters in South Carolina, Obama has started to actively seek out support within the Latino community. He recently dispatched Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-MA (one of several high profile endorsements of late) onto a popular Spanish-language radio talk-show called “El Piolin por la Manana,” that airs out of Massachusetts. The following day, former President Bill Clinton appeared on the program to highlight his wife’s longstanding ties with the Hispanic community.
Obama has sought momentum in California and among female voters by campaigning with California’s first lady, Maria Shriver. Advisers hope her efforts, coupled with talk show celebrity Oprah Winfrey, could help boost Obama’s support among white women, a group he has not done well with in recent voting.
No matter the results Tuesday, both the Obama and Clinton camps are angling to come out of the chaotic mix of primaries and caucuses Tuesday claiming new momentum.
Dan Balz reported in Tuesday’s Washington Post about the kind of hype that will likely be used to constitute a victory Tuesday night: “History suggests that winning states creates psychological success, which is to say that if either candidate wins a majority — say 14 or 15 of the 22 at stake — that would be seen as a big night, even though the delegate count will probably show a very close race.”