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First thoughts: Should she stay or go?

From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** Stay or go? To paraphrase that old Clash song, "Should she stay or should she go?" ("If I go there will be trouble; and if I stay it will be double…") That was the question that continued to dominate the Beltway chatter over the weekend. The problem for Clinton is that she's busier trying to prove her relevance in the process rather than debating Obama about the economy, health care, or Iraq. Indeed, Clinton told the Washington Post that she's in until the end. But it's simply not good for any campaign to have call up major national reporters to tell them that. A few questions we have about this interview: Did the need to do this come from financial duress, superdelegate duress, or both? Have more folks contacted the Clintons privately that the press hasn't heard about that's giving this pushback from the campaign more of a sense of urgency? Could some Clinton supporters (or even active campaigners, paid or unpaid) be ready to bolt? We in the media have been accused of creating this sense of urgency over whether she should stay in the race or not. But did Clinton herself need to add to the storyline with this interview? Apparently, she did. Nevertheless, more superdelegates are flocking to Obama. According to the Wall Street Journal, and confirmed by NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) will endorse Obama today. And the Journal also reports that Obama will get the support of North Carolina's entire Democratic congressional delegation before that state's primary on May 6.

VIDEO: NBC Political Director Chuck Todd offers his first read on the big superdelegate add for Barack Obama while Hillary Clinton continues to fight calls to drop out of the race.

*** "I'm reporting for duty," part II: The comparisons between McCain's '08 bid and Kerry's in '04 have been unmistakable: Both men, early on, were their party's overwhelming favorites to win the nomination; then they encountered trouble and got overshadowed by other candidates; and then -- almost out of nowhere -- they locked up the nomination. Now, as McCain today embarks on his "Service to America" tour across the country, there's another comparison between the two men: the emphasis of their military experience. Today, McCain stumps in Meridian, MS, where he served as a flight instructor and where an airfield is named after his grandfather. Per excerpts of his speech, McCain will discuss his family's lifetime of service, as well as his thoughts on how the government can support parents' ability to raise their children. On Tuesday, he's at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA, where he graduated from high school. On Wednesday, it's to Annapolis, MD, where he attended the US Naval Academy. On Thursday, he heads to Pensacola and Jacksonville, FL, where he served stateside. And on Saturday, he gives a speech in Arizona, which he now calls home.

*** But biography isn't everything: McCain's military service -- including his five years as a POW in Vietnam -- is without a doubt one of the central narratives of his life and his political career. It is also something that clearly distinguishes him from both Obama and Clinton. But as Bill Kristol writes in today's New York Times, you can't win presidential on biography alone. "If voters had simply looked at the biographies of the major-party candidates, they would have chosen George H. W. Bush in 1992, Bob Dole in 1996, Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. Instead, they rejected four veterans who served in wartime (and who also had considerable experience in public life) for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who had lesser résumés, both civilian and military." Kristol adds, "Campaign consultants like to say elections are about the present and the future more than the past." Also, keep this in mind: If McCain fails to win the presidency, it will likely mean that no Vietnam War veteran will ever be president. That should keep historical psychologists busy for years.

*** The Texas three-step: Over the weekend, we finally got an idea of the complete Texas caucus results. But we still don't have final results. As for the change in the delegate count, NBC had already allocated all but nine of the 67 caucus delegates up for grabs. The Obama campaign is claiming they've secured seven of those nine; the Clinton campaign is not projecting their caucus delegate count but believes Obama may only net five of those nine, not seven. Still, the best case for Obama, based on our totals, is a net of five additional delegates -- so not a massive change in the numbers. He may be getting more superdelegate endorsements today than he'll net out of what's remaining in Texas.

*** The Goreacle speaketh: One person who doesn't seem eager to step in and resolve the Clinton-Obama fight is Al Gore. "I'm not applying for the job of broker," he said on 60 Minutes last night. But what Gore is doing is launching is "a three-year, $300 million campaign Wednesday aimed at mobilizing Americans to push for aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, a move that ranks as one of the  most ambitious and costly public advocacy campaigns in U.S. history," the Washington Post writes. Climate change advocates have been frustrated that the issue is not yet a voting issue; Gore et al have succeeded in creating awareness, but they have yet to create a sense of urgency on the issue. That's what this campaign is designed to create.

*** Opening Day: Today is Opening Day, and after last night's amazing Nationals ending (thank you, Ryan Zimmerman!), it's a reminder that the beauty of Opening Day is that fans of EVERY team have high hopes and can think, "Maybe this is the year..." Well, today is a new Opening Day for McCain as he tries to jumpstart his general election campaign. And then there's Clinton, who desperately needs an Opening Day; the campaign needs that hope again. And as for Obama, he's like the baseball team who has a seven-game lead going into the final month of the season but hasn't yet clinched. The pennant appears to be his for the taking, but for some reason the veteran team chasing him keeps hanging around and hanging around…

*** On the trail: Elsewhere today, both Clinton and Obama are in Pennsylvania: Clinton hosts a roundtable discussion in Harrisburg and an economic rally in Fairless Hills, while Obama has a town hall in Lancaster and a rally in (cue Billy Joel) Allentown. Also, Bill Clinton stumps in Oregon.
Countdown to Pennsylvania: 22 days
Countdown to North Carolina, Indiana: 36 days
Countdown to Election Day 2008: 218 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 295 days
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