— From NBC's Chuck Todd
Because this next set of primaries (Indiana and North Carolina) is really the last major Tuesday of the primary season (sorry Oregon, sorry Kentucky, Montana etc.), I'm feeling it's necessary to make the weekend feel semi-busy. Here's my news and notes after purging my inbox this morning:
-- Guam: They are still counting in the Pacific. Track returns here; Obama leads but who knows how much vote is still out.
-- Tarring The Head Heel? At last night's N.C. JJ-dinner, the crowd leaned Obama which became
apparent when Clinton surrogate/Gov. Mike Easley was booed. Clinton
decided to avoid drawing contrasts with Obama, while Obama didn't,
according to our friends at the Raleigh News & Observer.
-- Obama's Green Get: Friends of the Earth, one of the more liberal and less financially potent enviro groups, officially came out for Obama, using the gax tax debate as the reason they went to Obama.
-- War For Oil? Here's a story that won't go away for McCain once the glare of the nat'l media is off of the Democrats: John McCain may have made one of those classic Washington gaffes where he accidentally said what he believed: McCain seem to imply even after clarifying differently, that the war in Iraq was over oil.
-- Random thought to ponder re: NC: Rev. Wright has hurt Obama more in NC than Indiana. Because Obama has concentrated so much time and resources in Indiana, he seems to have kept himself from cratering there but N.C. is another story. Perhaps the campaign believes they had a big enough lead to hold off Clinton; Obama's gas tax pushback seems to be getting real traction in Indiana, while the N.C. campaign is more racially polarized.
-- Speaking of N.C.: if Ace Smith pulls off this upset in the Tar Heel state, he'll be the new star of the Dem cycle as far as consultants are concerned. He was in charge of Clinton's effort in California and Texas and now he has the tough task of trying to pull even in N.C. So far, so good.
-- Clinton's O'Reilly Flub? During her Bill O'Reilly interview and in a press release issued earlier this week, Clinton pledged to use the WTO as a way to pressure OPEC nations on the price of oil. But the WTO explicitly exempts energy and there are some who argue that if WTO did get involved in energy, it would only benefit the major oil companies. Bottom line, it's not clear Clinton is dealing in reality on this issue since there really isn't a legal process to use the WTO to attack OPEC, but it sure sounds good, right? O'Reilly never followed up with her on this issue, perhaps he didn't know about the energy exemption in the WTO. No doubt Clinton will have to answer for this the next time she's grilled on this inconsistency. Folks who really understand this issue expressed concern that Clinton so easily talked about this as a viable option when it is apparently not.
-- Clinton's up in Oregon on TV: if for some reason she pulls
the upset in North Carolina, Obama's last shot at keeping
Superdelegates from abandoning him will be to win in Oregon. Like N.C.,
Obama starts with a lead but it's not insurmountable. Watch her first
-- Rush To Clinton: The Clinton camp has a small spin problem
when it comes to doing well with GOP crossover voters: It's now being
seen as a given in many reports that any support for her is courtesy of
Rush Limbaugh. Take a look at this NYT piece
about GOP participation in the Dem primaries. Clinton camp doesn't seem
to be getting credit for attracting more conservative primary voters.
-- Special Election Watch: There's a Saturday election in Louisiana's 6th C.D. where Dems are very confident they can pick off another GOP-held seat. The GOP is using this special as a test run in how to use Obama as a negative against Democrats. We'll see how successful each side is. A Dem loss will be used by the Clinton campaign as proof Obama's becoming as toxic (if not more so) than Clinton for downballot Democrats. Track the results when polls close at the Baton Rouge Advocate web site.
— From NBC's Chuck Todd