Surprisingly, Kevin Rudd’s meeting with the future US presidents hasn’t made headlines in the US media. America’s political journalists clearly haven’t noticed that meeting with Rudd confers great electability on the candidates. And here we were thinking the candidates would be clambering for a photo op with the new Aussie PM, as if that might give them the edge they need. Australia, after all, is an ambitious middle power, has nice beaches, and gave the world both Mel Gibson and an iron-clad commitment to the Coalition of the Willies. It’s a public relations dream.

Or maybe just a dream. Clinton and McCain both made time, whole minutes, but not Barack. Officially, the Democratic frontrunner was too busy campaigning in Pennsylvania to meet Kevin in person (they’ll chat on the phone), but it’s more likely that he remembers Rudd publicly declaring his preference for Hillary. Not that the American public will read about that.

Instead, they’re reading about how the Democrats are turning their gaze to the Pennsylvania primary, still three weeks away but which offers 188 delegates, while John McCain continues his struggle to woo the big-money donors who bank-rolled the George W. Bush’s White House campaign.

Money, that’s what he wants: To prevail in the general election, [McCain] will need to raise substantial amounts of cash to cut into the vast fund-raising edge the Democratic presidential candidates have shown over the Republicans this election cycle. Even though he all but secured the Republican nomination by mid-February, Mr. McCain has so far managed to enlist only a fraction of the heavyweight bundlers of campaign contributions who helped drive President Bush’s two runs for the White House, an examination of Mr. McCain’s fund-raising network shows. – Michael Luo and Griff Palmer, New York Times

Poor by comparison: Overall, the senator has earned $64 million or one-third of Obama’s staggering $193 million so far this election season. Clinton has raised $169 million overall so far. Some causes for the Arizona senator’s low numbers may include his failure to capitalize on the fundraising avenues on the Internet — Obama and Clinton are both credited with major solicitation drives on the World Wide Web. A demoralized Republican base, which is suspect of McCain’s positions on immigration and campaign financing, also has not demonstrated much enthusiasm for the nominee-in-waiting. – FOXNews

Dem elite working for a June solution: Hoping to avoid a summer-long bloodbath for the Democratic presidential nomination, some party leaders such as Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen have urged a convention of superdelegates in June, after the caucuses and primaries are over. The idea sounds exotic, but recent public declarations and Politico interviews with top Democratic officials have made clear that something like what Bredesen proposed is already underway — not with a big meeting but with an intensifying series of exchanges among party elites. — John F. Harris, Mike Allen & Paul Kuhn, Politico

Why Clinton carries on: There really is no precedent for demanding that Clinton withdraw at this point. If Michigan’s and Florida’s delegations remain unseated, there will be approximately 4,047 delegates at the August Democratic convention, making 2,024 the magic number for either candidate. Right now, Obama has 1,631 (including superdelegates), to Clinton’s 1,499—a difference of 132 delegates. And in the officially meaningless but symbolically important cumulative popular vote, Obama leads Clinton by just over two points—a margin that is basically cut in half when Florida is included. — Steve Kornacki, New York Observer

Why Hills should go: I would like to put myself among the growing chorus of people demanding that Hillary Clinton withdraw from the election. I don’t really think it’s fair to ask her to withdraw, and I certainly don’t believe she’s going to; she’ll hang in there till the last dog dies, or till she runs out of money, whichever comes first. I’m not asking her to withdraw because I prefer Obama, and I don’t think she should withdraw “for the sake of party unity,” or whatever current bromide is being flung at her to get her to pull out. I think she should withdraw because I’m losing my mind. — Nora Ephron, Huff Post

Micro-parsing the election: What is infinitely bothersome this campaign season is how the words of Senators Clinton, McCain, and Obama are micro-parsed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Meanings are pulled out of non-meanings. Non-ideas pulled out of ideas. So on and so forth. Case in point: Senator Obama’s words at a town hall meeting in Johnstown, Pennsylvania last Saturday. — The Moderate Voice

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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