Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Oregon Emerges As A Key Democratic Primary

Written On M.S. Prinsendam, off Libya--

Sen. Barack Obama better win the Oregon primary next Tuesday. If he doesn't, then I think his grip on the Democratic nomination may seriously be loosened.

Obama is, for the moment, well ahead of Sen. Hillary Clinton in delegates, superdelegates, popular votes won and states won. But he is going to lose in Kentucky next Tuesday, another state with many low income white voters, and he needs to win traditionally independent-minded Oregon and then South Dakota and Montana June 3. If he does, he has the nomination. If not, I think he's in trouble.

So, if this is correct, it stands to reason that Obama must suspend his visits to possible swing states next November, such as Missouri and Michigan, where he has gone this week, and concentrate on wrapping this thing up, by visiting Oregon, South Dakota and Montana -- and more than once, plus advertise heavily in all three places. He shouldn't for the moment be running primarily against Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.

I don't buy the argument frequently heard now from the Clinton camp that the pattern of states where Hillary has won proves that Obama can't win a general election because he can't win whites. In many states, Obama has won whites in many states, and, in any event, this continues to look like a solid Democratic year. Whoever wins the Democratic nomination is likely to win the election, and as November comes on, and the choice seems clear, Obama would, I think, naturally win the preponderant share of voters who went to Clinton in the primaries and caucuses. They might not be terribly satisfied, but they would come to his side in the end.

One further indication of that came last night in Mississippi, where Democrat Travis Childers won a congressional seat in a special election in a district which not only had recently gone Republican, but where the Republican, Greg Davis, ran a racially-oriented campaign trying to tie the white Democratic candidate to Obama. It didn't work, and it didn't work in another recent district where a Democrat won a Republican seat, in Louisiana.

In fact, the Clinton argument about swing states may not be as valid this year, because it seems, from primary results, that Obama is running very well across the South, and could capture a large number of Southern states in the fall.

After her big win in West Virginia Tuesday night, Clinton sounded as if she were in the race to stay, and may even try to change the rules and lobby for the admission of Florida and Michigan delegates who come out of primaries held in violation of Democratic National Committee rules that Clinton herself had once agreed to. This just is another demonstration of how dishonorable Clinton is. She and her husband are involved in a power grab of chilling proportions.

But that is not to say that if he wins the nomination, Obama shouldn't put her on the ticket with him as the Democratic vice presidential nominee. As I said last week, that may be ncessary.

Obama naturally doesn't want to do this, because who would want the Clintons ensconced in a vice presidency where they could make trouble for an Obama administration? He'd almost need a food taster in the White House. But the Democratic hierarchy might demand her as the vice presidential nominee, and Hillary now seems to be angling for it.

The pressure in that direction only grows when Clinton wins primaries like she did last night.

Some have said an Obama-Clinton ticket, or a Clinton-Obama ticket would be more change than the American people could take, with the first woman and the first black. But such a Democratic tide is running that this year I don't think so. The fact is that McCain probably stands a reasonable chance only if Hillary is the presidential nominee and doesn't put Obama on the ticket.

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Many of the political commentary panels being run by the networks on the impassioned presidential race simply include partisans of one side or the other, and not independent observers. What it seems is that a bunch of lawyers for the various candidates are always arguing with another, coming up, as lawyers often do, with the most ridiculous arguments. The viewers deserve better than that.

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