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Clinton: Playing the race card?

The New York Post: "Clinton played the race card yesterday as she dismissed Barack Obama as a candidate who will have a hard time winning support from 'white Americans.' It was the most starkly racial comment Clinton has made in the campaign, and drew quick condemnation from some Democrats.

" 'I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on,' she told USA Today in an interview published yesterday. She referred to an Associated Press story on Indiana and North Carolina exit polls 'that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.' She added, 'There's a pattern emerging here.'"

Here's what some said in response: "Muriel Offerman, a North Carolina superdelegate who has not disclosed her choice, said, 'That should not have been said. I think it drives a wedge, a racial wedge, and that's not what the Democratic Party's about.' Asked about Clinton's comments, Massachusetts superdelegate Debra Kozikowsi said, 'That's distressing. I'm not even sure how to respond to that.'"

The New York Daily News: "Hillary Clinton misplays race card while Barack Obama is treated like rock star." "[S]ome of her supporters -- including Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Manhattan) -- slammed the comments. 'I can't believe Sen. Clinton would say anything that dumb,' Rangel told The News as he headed to the House floor, where earlier he had embraced Obama. The bitter words came as both candidates looked ahead to West Virginia's primary Tuesday and pressed their talking points -- Clinton insisting she was in the race to win, while Obama argued he could have the nomination wrapped up when Oregon and Kentucky vote on May 20."

Peggy Noonan also believes Clinton played the race card in her USA Today interview. "If John McCain said, 'I got the white vote, baby!' his candidacy would be over. And rising in highest indignation against him would be the old Democratic Party. To play the race card as Mrs. Clinton has, to highlight and encourage a sense that we are crudely divided as a nation, to make your argument a brute and cynical 'the black guy can't win but the white girl can' is -- well, so vulgar, so cynical, so cold, that once again a Clinton is making us turn off the television in case the children walk by."

"'She has unleashed the gates of hell,' a longtime party leader told me. 'She's saying, "He's not one of us."' 

John Edwards said on MSNBC's Morning Joe that he disagrees with Clinton's "white Americans" comment and that she's got to ask herself, "Where are the lines?" He added, "I think it's fine for Hillary to keep making the case for her. But when that shifts to everything that is wrong with him, then we're doing damage instead of being helpful."

And did Edwards tip his hand on who he's backing? He called Obama the "likely nominee." And we'll chalk this one up to his Southern accent, but he said he "voted for 'em on Tuesday." (Sounded an awful lot like "him.")

Also… "I think Barack Obama's doing pretty well without my help." Edwards also said, "He is clearly the likely nominee at this point."

Edwards said he may choose to publicly declare for one of the candidates, but he's keeping it to himself "just for now." He added, though, that he doesn't think his endorsement matters except to "people like you all" [the media]. He wouldn't answer if he and his wife, Elizabeth, voted for different people.

Here's the New York Post's headline to Charles Hurt's column: "Desperate Hillbillies threaten to break up party." "Well, now these racial politics have spilled out into the public and are splintering longtime, devoted Democrats into separate camps. It's become the 'working-class whites' versus the 'eggheads and African-Americans.'

More: "With no one left to cry to, Sen. Clinton has gone nuclear and she's getting kookier by the minute. Yesterday she was toast. Today, she's looking more like scrambled eggs."

Politico's Smith on Clinton's blunt talk about her white support: "Now, the press has talked about the race in these terms constantly, so I won't feign shock. But it's a bit strange to hear it so bluntly from the candidate's mouth, and probably not a great way to endear herself to African-American voters. And it's also noteworthy that the blunt talk on appealing to whites surfaces the day after the last round of primaries in which there's a substantial number of black voters."

The New York Times reports it's possible Clinton will give herself more money. "Clinton advisers said Mrs. Clinton was committed to spending more of her own cash on the campaign if necessary, although they spoke optimistically about a rise in fund-raising if she prevails in Tuesday's primary in West Virginia." More: "Clinton had been increasingly relying on Internet donations this spring from new and small-amount contributors; the day after she won the April 22 Pennsylvania primary, the campaign brought in a record $10 million online. But Hassan Nemazee, one of Mrs. Clinton's national finance chairmen, put the amount she collected online in the 24 hours after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries at only "$1 million-plus."

Interestingly, the Times makes the point that Obama's big spending in PA for his nine-point loss actually may have dealt a devastating financial blow to Clinton. "Obama spent $9 million on television advertisements in North Carolina and Indiana, including a last minute $170,000 purchase in the expensive Chicago market, which extends into northern Indiana. By contrast, Mrs. Clinton spent about $4.7 million in those states, according to CMAG. Even more, said Evan Tracey, spokesman for CMAG, the fact that Mr. Obama was able to pump $10 million into media purchases in Pennsylvania in April, even though he did not win that state, forced Mrs. Clinton to spend $5 million, cash she could have used in Indiana and North Carolina."

Yesterday, Terry McAuliffe said "seven figures." That doesn't quite confirm the million dollar Internet haul but...

During a three-state whirlwind tour yesterday of half of the remaining primaries, Clinton has altered her stump speeches on energy slightly to address the specific needs of those states, NBC's Lauren Appelbaum notes. While Clinton emphasized coal technology in West Virginia (a topic normally included in a list but rarely specified on), she discussed wind power at more length in South Dakota. "When we get 52% of electricity from coal in the United States, coal is not going anywhere," Clinton said to applause in Charleston, WV. The New York Senator did emphasize the necessity for clean coal technology but assured the audience, which was sure to have included a good percentage of coal miners, that coal mining would not be eliminated.
 
None of the coal talk was anywhere to be seen in an expanded rally in Sioux Falls, SD four hours later. Instead, the focus was on wind energy production. "It's been said that America from the Dakotas down to West Texas is the Saudi Arabia of wind," Clinton said. "And, you know, that's not just Washington political hot air talking; that's actually a fact, that if we harness the wind coming off of these plains and we had an electric grid system with the distribution system to transmit it from right here in South Dakota across our country, we would be moving toward clean renewable energy."

Why go on? The New York Daily News: "Whatever happens, it's a profile in true grit. But why is she still in a race that with each passing hour appears more doomed? Admirers say she's genuinely driven to make America a better place. Critics attribute her doggedness to the consuming ambition, thirst for power and streak of narcissism she shares with her husband."

"Movie mogul and Hillary Rodham Clinton backer Harvey Weinstein told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi he would stop fund-raising for Democrats if she refused to support new primary elections in Florida and Michigan, it was reported yesterday."