Posted: March 5, 2008 6:54 PM
Obama Takes Media to Task as Campaigns Push On
After losses to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Ohio and Texas primaries, it was Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s turn to gripe about the media.
“There’s no doubt that Senator Clinton went very negative over the last week,” he said, according to the Associated Press. He said her campaign’s multiple attacks “had some impact” on the election results “particularly in the context where many of you in the press corps had been persuaded that you had been too hard on her and too soft on me.”
“Complaining about the refs apparently worked a little bit this week,” he said, equating members of the news media with referees in a sporting event.
The New York Times reported that the Clinton campaign’s complaints against the media may have turned the spotlight on him rather than her now-vanquished losing streak.
“Mr. Obama was the subject of 69 percent of all campaign articles last week, from Feb. 25 to March 2, and Mrs. Clinton was the subject of 58 percent of articles about the election, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.”
Obama vowed that he would start to raise more doubt about Clinton’s claims of Washington and foreign policy experience after he lost to her in the Ohio and Texas primaries.
“What exactly is this foreign policy experience?” Obama asked, according to the AP. “Was she negotiating treaties? Was she handling crises? The answer is no.”
In TV interviews Wednesday, Clinton listed foreign policy situations in which she played a role, including peace talks in Northern Ireland, the Kosovo refugee crisis and pushing for women’s rights in China. She also cited her work on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Obama aides sent out a memo and held a conference call to question why Clinton won’t release her tax returns, the AP reported. The Clinton campaign responded with a statement e-mailed to reporters that said the Clintons’ returns since they left the White House will be made public around April 15.
Tuesday’s races closed the delegate gap between Clinton and Obama to some extent. Clinton won at least 185 delegates and Obama won at least 173, according to AP projections. Her Ohio victory appears to have won her only nine more delegates than Obama, with two still to be awarded. In Texas, she won four more delegates than Obama in the primary. But he appeared trimmed her lead to a single Texas delegate as the results of party caucuses were tabulated. There were still 10 delegates to be awarded in the caucuses.
More than two months after the Iowa caucuses, the Democratic race is almost certainly guaranteed to continue at least another seven weeks. Pennsylvania Democrats vote April 22 in a closed primary, which excludes independents and cross-party “Obamacans.”
“Pennsylvania is the new Iowa,” Clinton spokesman Doug Hattaway told Politico.
The relatively cordial campaign between the top two Democrats is expected to turn toward more mud-slinging as the candidates battle for the remaining delegates.
“The up-with-people phase of this contest is over,” Politico predicted. “The clear-the-benches phase has begun - a brawl that now is more likely than not to continue until the Democratic nomination in late August.”
The candidates will compete over the next week in Wyoming and Mississippi before a long stretch of campaigning before Pennsylvania’s 158 delegates are up for grabs.
But as the candidates clash over delegates, it will certainly make for great political — and possibly legal — drama.
“Both Obama and Clinton are resting their candidacies on arguments that are fundamentally true,” Politico continued. “Obama is right that, at least by conventional standards, she has little prospect of overcoming his delegate lead. There are not enough states and delegates still on the table.”
One possible way for the candidates to avoid an even-more-protracted primary battle would be the unlikely possibility that one Democrat would agree to be the other’s running mate.
“We talked to a lot of people in Ohio who said there really isn’t that significant a difference between you two, and they’d like to see you both on the ticket,” anchor Harry Smith told Clinton on CBS’ morning program Wednesday.
She replied: “Well, you know, that may be where this is headed. But of course we have to decide who is on the top of the ticket. I think the people of Ohio very clearly said that it should be me.”
Obama brushed off the question. “We are just focused on winning this nomination,” he said. “I think it is premature to start talking about a joint ticket.”