From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
The Clinton campaign tried to set expectations and pushed back against the conventional wisdom that Clinton needs a decisive victory in Pennsylvania tomorrow.
Pennsylvania is not about finishing close, Communications Director Howard Wolfson said. "It's about winning."
Wolfson added that Obama is doing everything he can to win the race, outspending Clinton three to one (overall: $11.2 million to $4.8 million).
"He has gone sharply negative, and he is doing this to knock us out of the race," Wolfson said. "And if he does not win it will again raise very serious questions among voters and superdelegates … that he can win big swing states like Pennsylvania." He added, "If Sen. Obama can't win a big swing state with that enormous spending advantage, just what will it take for him to win a large swing state?"
On some analysts having said Clinton needs as much as a 20-point victory and that if Obama finishes within five or six points, there will be no appreciable difference among superdelegates, top aide Geoff Garin went further.
"Those numbers are ridiculous," Garin said. "Sen. Obama made a conscious decision to try and change the stakes here. They're not spending this money simply to try and improve the Pennsylvania economy." They "put their brand at stake to try and deliver this knock out blow."
Aides posited that Clinton's closing Pennsylvania ad, "Kitchen," is "entirely positive," certainly more positive than Obama's most recent ads, they said -- even though the ad echoes the language Clinton used over the weekend to knock Obama for complaining about taking tough questions.
"Harry Truman said it best, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen," an announcer says in the ad. "Who do you think has what it takes?"
Garin drew this comparison: "When you hear Sen. Obama say he's the best candidate to change America, do you think that's a negative ad?"
Clinton campaign's McCain contradiction?
The campaign disputed that it is contradicting itself when it comes to McCain versus Bush. Clinton had said McCain will bring a lifetime of experience (as will she) but Obama will bring a speech he made in 2002. That seemingly elevated McCain above Obama in who's more qualified to be president, that McCain had passed the Commander in Chief test, but Sen. Obama had not (as they continue to say). But over the weekend, when Obama said McCain would be a better president than Bush, the Clinton campaign pushed back hard against that.
"There's a difference in the context of how voters will look at a candidate in an election and how the person will govern," Wolfson said.