Hillary Clinton has just been declared the winner of the New Mexico caucuses, a Feb. 5 state that took its time tallying the results, reports The Washington Post. The victory is a boost for the New York senator, who’s lost eight contests in a row to Sen. Barack Obama since their Super Tuesday split decision. But the win, which involved a marathon vote count that lasted for days, only netted Clinton one more delegate. Obama remains in front on the delegate count, and strikingly, in polls against McCain. Which means that people are starting to ask — hang on a minute, who is this guy?

Testing President Obama: …what would a President Obama, as opposed to Phenomenon Obama, really mean for America and the world?… here is a sense in which he has hitherto had to jump over a lower bar than his main rivals have. For America’s sake (and the world’s), that bar should now be raised—or all kinds of brutal disappointment could follow. — The Economist

He’s on the record: In reality, there’s no mystery about the direction in which Obama might take us: He’s written a breathtakingly honest autobiography; he has a long legislative history, and now, a meaty economic program. But no one checks the weather before leaping out of a burning building. Consider our present situation. Thanks to Iraq and water-boarding, Abu Ghraib and the “rendering” of terror suspects, we’ve achieved the moral status of a pariah nation. The seas are rising. The dollar is sinking. A growing proportion of Americans have no access to health care; an estimated 18,000 die every year for lack of health insurance. Now, as the economy staggers into recession, the financial analysts are wondering only whether the rest of the world is sufficiently “de-coupled” from the US economy to survive our demise. Clinton can put forth all the policy proposals she likes – and many of them are admirable ones – but anyone can see that she’s of the same generation and even one of the same families that got us into this checkmate situation in the first place. — Barbara Ehrenreich,The Huffington Post

The hope speech is getting old: Hillary Clinton probably didn’t watch the stem-winder speech that Barack Obama delivered Tuesday night after cleaning her clock in the Potomac primaries. If not, she should. It was tiresome. — Daniel Henninger, The Wall Street Journal

Too Hollywood?: After Super Tuesday, I was surprised to find that a friend of mine, a lifelong Democrat who had been pledging his allegiance to Barack Obama all year, had stepped into the voting booth and suddenly changed is mind. He voted, instead, for Hillary Clinton, and here’s why: he’d watched that video online —you know, the one starring celebrities like will.i.am, Scarlett Johansson and Herbie Hancock—and he thought it made Obama look Hollywood smug, as if supporting him were this year’s version of wearing an AIDS ribbon on your lapel. My friend didn’t want anything to do with the latest chic cause, and he just couldn’t bring himself to pull the lever for the guy who now symbolized the things he liked least about Democratic politics, starting with all those stars who think they know more about America than the people who live in it. – Matt Bai, New York Times

Hillary’s losing the running race: This is not the race that Clinton thought she would be running. Her campaign was built on inevitability, a haughty operation so confident it would have the nomination wrapped up by now that it didn’t even put a field organization in place for the states that were to come after the megaprimary on Feb. 5. Clinton’s positions, most notably her support for the Iraq invasion and her refusal to recant that vote, were geared more to battling a Republican in the general election than to winning over an angry Democratic base clamoring for change. Not until last fall did she seem to acknowledge that she faced opposition in the Democratic primaries, so focused was her message on George W. Bush and the GOP. — Karen Tumulty, Time

Why do I feel sorry for Hillary?: If Hillary is rejected by the voters, after having previously been seen as virtually invincible, she has to ask a version of that same question: “Why aren’t I likable enough?” We have to have compassion for someone who has to publicly or privately face defeat and, whatever she says, a kind of humiliation. And when, as all losing candidates must do, she put on her game face and cheerfully supports Obama for president, she will in effect be mimicking the face she put on for her wandering husband and the support she gave through so much pain and humiliation. It’s painful to watch this happening -for her, certainly, but for us, too. — Mona Ackerman, The Huffington Post

Bill the Valentine: Asked if she and [Bill] had any tradition for Valentine’s Day, she said, “We have a tradition of spending it with each other, which we break for the first time in this campaign.” She added that when she arrived at her hotel room in Ohio at 2 a.m. Thursday, after a long day of campaigning in Texas, there were chocolates and a dozen roses waiting for her. — Patrick Healy, New York Times

McCain nabs Mitt: What Sen. John McCain could really use is Mitt Romney’s hair. Today, he got his endorsement. These two who fought so fervently in the primary campaign now stand hand in hand. “I think you’re very well aware of the issues where we disagreed,” Romney said, with McCain standing by his side today. “We debated those extensively… I still have my views. He has his views … But as a party, we come together. – The Swamp, Baltimore Sun

Romney crosses to the dark side: It was quite a truce. The bitterest, feuding-est duo of the 2008 Republican nomination battle were all peace, love and mutual respect Thursday afternoon when Mitt Romney threw his support behind his former adversary, Senator John McCain. “I am honored today to give my full support to Senator McCain’s candidacy for the presidency of the United States,’’ Mr. Romney said at a news conference with Mr. McCain in Boston. “I am officially endorsing his candidacy. And today I am asking my delegates to vote for Senator McCain at the convention.’’ – The Caucus, New York Times

Delegate mathematics: McCain is hoping that most of the 280 delegates that Romney won before he pulled out of the presidential race last week will switch into his column, putting him ever closer to securing the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. “We know it was a hard campaign,” he said. “And now we move forward together for the good of our party and the nation, and I am very honored to have governor Romney and the members of his team at my side.” Even before the Romney endorsement, McCain had an estimated 800 delegates and was getting close to the 1,191 votes needed to win the nomination. McCain also hopes that the Romney endorsement will win over some conservative Republicans who continue to oppose him because of his record on taxes, campaign reform and immigration. – Jim Malone, Voice of America

The making of a Latino voter: As we scramble to predict the final verdict of the nation’s Democrats in real time, much thought has been devoted to dissecting the Latino vote. States with large Latino constituencies — including California, New York, and New Mexico — have delivered important primary victories to Sen. Hillary Clinton, perhaps proving to be her strongest single demographic. However, Texas, which votes on March 4, may well be the king- (or queen-) maker. Up to half of the Democratic votes may come from Latino voters, and both Barack Obama and Clinton have launched aggressive campaigns in the state. While political analysts emphasize their strategic importance, we dug deeper into what characterizes the Latino population in the US. We spoke with Clara Irazábal, a professor of urban design at the University of Southern California with expertise in Latino and Latin American studies. — Activate

Peter Fray

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