Don’t count Clinton out yet, says TPM election central today. Hillary could still win this thing. But the media seem to be willing it to not be so. Do they want her to lose? Why do they relish the tracking of her downfall with such glee? It’s still going to come down to superdelegates, and no one really knows what they’re thinking. But the media, and the magic momentum that they can imbue a candidate with, still thinks they can write the storyline, and they’ve practically crowned Obama months ahead of the convention. What if they’re wrong?
Do they want her to lose?: Tensions between the Hillary campaign and the media boiled over yesterday. After news outlets began asking questions about Matt Drudge’s “scoop” that unnamed Hillary staffers “circulated” a photo of Obama in Somali garb, Hillary spokesperson Phil Singer hit back at the media during a breakfast with reporters, suggesting they were happily allowing themselves to be led around on a leash by Drudge when he offered the chance to write negative stories about her. “I find it interesting that in a room of such esteemed journalists that Mr. Drudge has become your respected assignment editor,” Singer said. — TPM election central
The McCaining of McCain: It is highly ironic that the father of campaign finance reform would emerge as the presumptive Republican nominee only to find himself embroiled in a controversy over whether he violated the kind of strict regulations he long championed. But that is exactly where John McCain finds himself. The details of the controversy may be enough to make election lawyers swoon and most normal people nod off, but they are worth wading through because they provide yet another reminder of why the over-regulated campaign finance system is absurd and needs to be scrapped. — The American Spectator
The make or break debate: In many ways, tonight is Sen. Hillary Clinton’s last stand. The pressure’s off Sen. Barack Obama in Cleveland this evening, he just has to keep on keepin’ on. But if Clinton can’t dramatically convince voter/viewers of her essential point – that Obama is dangerously vague and ill-prepared for a fall campaign, let alone for the presidency – then it is very hard to see how she can stop the Obama Express in March. — Howard Fineman, MSNBC
It’s not over yet: Neither Clinton nor Obama can expect to win the nomination by virtue of the pledged delegates alone. Obama would have to win more than 75% of the remaining delegates. Clinton needs more than are available. Thus, the nominee will have to fill the gap via the super delegates. This is critically important. The nominee will be the one who makes a compelling argument to a sufficient number of the 795 super delegates. This is the first reason not to be so quick to declare the race finished. Do we know what these delegates are thinking? We have no survey data on them – nothing that gauges their preferences or beliefs. We can easily track how candidates are doing when their audience is the American public. That’s what opinion polls are for. We have nothing of the sort for the super delegates. — Jay Cost, RealClearPolitics
The stump speech makes a comeback: Not since the days of the whistle-stop tour and the radio addresses that Franklin D. Roosevelt used to hone his message while governor of New York has a presidential candidate been propelled so much by the force of words, according to historians and experts on rhetoric. Obama’s emergence as the front-runner in the race for the Democratic nomination has become nearly as much a story of his speeches as of the candidate himself. He arrived on the national scene with his address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, his campaign’s key turning points have nearly all involved speeches, and his supporters are eager for his election-night remarks nearly as much as for the vote totals. But his success as a speaker has also invited a new line of attack by his opponents. — Alec McGillis, The Washington Post