From Chuck Todd and Mark Murray
*** The new math: With Florida and Michigan re-dos all but dead, the Obama folks have successfully kept the delegate path very narrow for Clinton. As the New York Times' Nagourney front-pages, "Without new votes in Florida and Michigan, it will be that much more difficult for Mrs. Clinton to achieve a majority in the total popular vote in the primary season, narrow Mr. Obama's lead among pledged delegates or build a new wave of momentum." By the way, did the Clinton campaign err in sending the candidate to Michigan yesterday? Some supporters of the re-do in that state believe that her visit to the state -- combined with the public release of the Clinton sugar daddies who promised to pony up $12 million -- spooked some undecided lawmakers who were queasy about the prospect of the re-do looking like a totally Clinton-funded event. And as it turned out, Clinton was in Michigan pushing process, while Obama was having a debate with McCain about Iraq. It's a rare day that Team Clinton took their eye off the message ball. But doesn't that underscore the need they have for this Michigan re-vote -- that they were willing to cede the Iraq anniversary to Obama and McCain? One other question: Does anyone think that one of the many reasons Obama has shown hesitancy to endorse a full revote in Michigan has to do with the controversy surrounding Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick? Does Obama really want to have to find ways to avoid being seen with Kilpatrick during a campaign in the state? The last thing Obama needs is to be drawn into some controversy that may appear divisive on the race front.
*** Is it safe? It's been a week since Rev. Wright became a household name and his sermons became discussion at the water cooler. Should the Obama campaign take heart in the fact that no new controversial sermons have become public? One would assume a slew of journalists have been scouring his sermons for more crazy statements and simply haven't found any ... yet? On the flip side, who else besides the Los Angeles Times yesterday and Nicholas Kristof today has attempted to look at Wright in a positive light (who he is, what he stands for, why he had thousands of parishioners including Obama, etc)? Of course, Wright's words are going to live, the "Is Obama Wright" YouTube continues to make the rounds and it's a taste of how the patriotism card could be used against Obama in a general. and
*** Redacted! So how scrubbed were those Hillary Clinton schedules? Scrubbed enough that the names of David "redacted" Kendall and Bob "redacted" Bennett apparently never appeared on them. As expected, the schedules didn't reveal that much. If anything, they only served as a tool to distract a lot of media to comb through them to find, well, nothing other than to attempt to recreate salacious days during some of the more dramatic moments of the Clinton years. The collective press corps now eagerly awaits those tax returns. When they're released, will Yucaipa become a household name? Of course, the release of these schedules gives the appearance of transparency, even though there was a lot that was redacted. This could turn out to be a helpful talking point for the Clinton campaign as they fight this message meme that they aren't being transparent about their post-presidency income and the Clinton library donations.
*** A Clinton-McCain alliance? Yesterday, while campaigning in Allentown, Bill Clinton praised McCain, NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli reports. "He paid as high a price as you can pay to serve this country without getting killed, and we have to honor that," Clinton said. "[And] he has some redeeming qualities for a Republican: he doesn't believe in torture, he supported campaign finance reform and he doesn't think global warming is a myth… So it is not gonna be all that easy to beat him." Of course, Obama has also praised McCain and his service. But Clinton's praise came on the very day -- the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war -- in which the Obama and McCain camps were trading barbs over the Iraq war. So in that context, it was fascinating that Clinton would be so effusive in his praise. Meanwhile, McCain's been similarly deferential to Clinton, but not so much to Obama. In fact, the tone of the Mark Salter's attack release yesterday is a reminder to some that there really is no love lost between Team McCain and Team Obama. There is a lot more contempt for Obama with McCain folks than there is for Clinton.
*** Another GOP retirement: First Read has learned that New York Rep. Tom Reynolds (R) -- who chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee in the '04 and '06 cycles, and who was once thought of as a possible successor to then-Speaker Denny Hastert -- is retiring. Reynolds narrowly held onto his seat in 2006, after he got caught up in the controversy over Mark Foley. Democrats are optimistic about their chances in his New York district, but it's still fairly Republican; Bush got 55% of the vote there in 2004. But it's yet another GOP retirement. By the way, what kind of message is being sent to the House Republicans that the last TWO NRCC chairs (Reynolds and Virginia's Tom Davis) have both decided to get out?
*** London calling: McCain's taxpayer-financed overseas trip has taken him to Iraq, Jordan, and Israel. And today it takes him to London, where -- among other things -- he holds a fundraiser for his campaign. (His campaign is covering the costs for the fundraiser, which only US citizens can attend.) It's another sign, by the way, of the growing importance of overseas donors, since globalization has moved a lot of US citizens around the world, especially London. Also, don't miss another Lieberman-save for McCain on a potential Jewish holiday faux pas over Purim. Lieberman is turning into McCain's overseas MVP.
*** Here's … an endorsement? Edwards is on Leno tonight. Will he hint at his endorsement? Unlikely. We're just shocked he'd schedule anything on the first day of the NCAA tourney. Come on, John, we thought you were more of a hoops fan than THAT! Jay can wait -- it's the most important hoops day of the year! In fairness, however, Edwards' Tar Heels don't play until tomorrow night… And speaking of, a memo to the campaigns: Please don't hold any conference calls, etc. past noon, except perhaps during the 5:00 pm-to-7:00 pm window. We can all take a slight break these next two days, right?
*** On the trail: Clinton stumps in Indiana, making stops in Terre Haute, Anderson, and Evansville. Obama, meanwhile, gives his third big speech in three days -- this one from Charleston, WV on Iraq and its impact on the US economy. Afterwards, he campaigns in Beckley, WV before heading to Oregon.
Countdown to Pennsylvania: 33 days
Countdown to North Carolina, Indiana: 47 days
Countdown to Election Day 2008: 229 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 306 days
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