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Must-win spin

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Who is Texas and Ohio "must win" for again? Hillary Clinton's chief surrogate, former President Bill Clinton, has said she has to win both Texas and Ohio. Harold Ickes, a top aide, said, "If we lose in Texas and Ohio, Mrs. Clinton will have to make her decision as to whether she goes forward or not." Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Clinton supporter, said in order to win Pennsylvania, she's got to win Tuesday.

So Clinton must win, right? Clinton Campaign Chief Strategist Mark Penn today released a memo to the media, though, with the subject, "Obama Must-Wins."

"If he cannot win all of these states with all this effort, there's a problem," Penn writes. And not only does he have to win, they have to be "decisive," according to the memo.
 
"Should Senator Obama fail to score decisive victories with all of the resources and effort he is bringing to bear, the message will be clear," Penn continues, "Democrats, the majority of whom have favored Hillary in the primary contests held to date, have their doubts about Senator Obama and are having second thoughts about him as a prospective standard-bearer."

Obama has won a majority of nominating contests, including caucuses, but note Penn's use of "primary."

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe says, by their estimate, his candidate is ahead by 162 pledged delegates. (NBC News' hard count shows Obama ahead 157 pledged delegates, but there are 13 delegates still unallocated, including nine in Colorado, two in Maryland and one each in Hawaii, Democrats Abroad, New York and Tennessee. Of those states, Obama won Colorado, Maryland, Hawaii and Abroad.)

"We're heading to a series of close contests" on March 4th, Plouffe said on a conference call with reporters earlier today. "There will not be a huge delegate swing." Plouffe also pointed out that they could rack up more delegates in a decisive victory in Vermont than Clinton could with slight wins in either or both Ohio and Texas. 

"They have said themselves they need to win both Texas and Ohio by over 10 pts," Plouffe said of the Clinton campaign. "There's a long way to go, so maybe they can do that. Their goal was to dig into our pledged delegate lead on March 4. They thought they could make huge delegate strides.

"They're going to fail on that and fail miserably."

Below is the full Penn memo:
To: Interested Parties
From: The Clinton Campaign
Date: Friday, February 29, 2008
RE: Obama Must-Wins
 
The media has anointed Barack Obama the presumptive nominee and he's playing the part.
 
With an eleven state winning streak coming out of February, Senator Obama is riding a surge of momentum that has enabled him to pour unprecedented resources into Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.
 
The Obama campaign and its allies are outspending us two to one in paid media and have sent more staff into the March 4 states. In fact, when all is totaled, Senator Obama and his allies have outspent Senator Clinton by a margin of $18.4 million to $9.2 million on advertising in the four states that are voting next Tuesday.
 
Senator Obama has campaigned hard in these states. He has spent time meeting editorial boards, courting endorsers, holding rallies, and - of course - making speeches.
 
If he cannot win all of these states with all this effort, there's a problem.
 
Should Senator Obama fail to score decisive victories with all of the resources and effort he is bringing to bear, the message will be clear:
 
Democrats, the majority of whom have favored Hillary in the primary contests held to date, have their doubts about Senator Obama and are having second thoughts about him as a prospective standard-bearer.
 
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