From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** More Clinton-Obama drama: It now has been exactly two months to the day when Hillary Clinton officially ended her candidacy and endorsed Obama. But even two months -- and it seems longer ago than that, doesn't it? -- can't erase the Clinton drama, even as polls show that women and Clinton's supporters are firmly behind the Illinois Democrat. First came the Bill Clinton interview in which he wouldn't say that Obama is qualified to be president beyond the requirements set in the Constitution that you have to be 35 or older and born in the US. And now -- right before she stumps for Obama tomorrow in Nevada -- comes a YouTube clip of Hillary telling her supporters that she wants a "strategy" to have her delegates heard at the convention. (After talking to a Dem operative, Clinton must approve, in writing, for her name to appear on the ballot.
So this is in Clinton's power whether her name is put into nomination, not Obama's nor Howard Dean's.) Watching the video clip, you can tell that Hillary still hasn't gotten over losing, and given all of the people she had telling her that she'd be the next president, we can understand the denial; she had been preparing for this moment for nearly four years. But we've asked this question a million times and we ask it again: Would the Clintons have been as deferential (or be expected to be as deferential) to Obama if the roles were reversed? What has happened over the last few days has given Obama the high ground here.
*** Obama not tough enough? If it's August, that means that Democratic politicos are wringing their hands about their presidential candidate's campaign strategy, even though this guy -- unlike the guy four years ago -- is actually winning in the mid-single digits. Today, the Washington Post runs a piece that features plenty of blind quotes from Democratic strategists worried that Obama isn't tough enough against McCain's attacks. "[Y]ou have to counterattack," said one. "You don't want to look like a whiner. You want to look tough." Has Obama had a negative TV ad that's broken through the clutter in either the primary or the general so far? Arguably, the best negative ad against Clinton was that Mac-IBM spoof created by a rogue supporter. Actually, Obama's ads -- even the positive ones -- haven't been anything that have changed the political debate. That said, we found these two quotes in the piece to be interesting. "We've been through two very tough elections at the national level, and it's very easy to lose confidence," said Tad Devine. And said a Dem consultant: "One of the great strengths of the Obama campaign has been to not listen to the D.C. chattering class. They have a plan and they stick to it. But clearly, the D.C. chattering class are all wringing their hands."
*** Time to get away? If you believe these Pew numbers about voters hearing "too much" about Obama, then Obama's vacation, which begins tomorrow, couldn't be coming at a better time. According to a new Pew poll, 48% of voters -- and 51% of independents -- say they've been hearing too much about Obama. Is that perhaps the true success of the recent spate of negative McCain ads? What does this poll number mean? Does it mean Obama can't introduce any more information to voters because they have all they need? Does this mean he simply needs to start making the public focus more on Bush or McCain? Is this simply a response to the over-the-top media blitz Obama orchestrated during his international trip? All we know is that we want to see this question asked again and see if there's a trend.
Video: NBC Political Director Chuck Todd discusses the talk of tension between Barack Obama and the Clinton's, the latest veepstakes rumors and a new poll on Barack Obama overexposure.
*** A bundle of fun? The New York Times is the latest news organization to cover the fascinating story of McCain bundler Harry Sargeant. Our favorite anecdote in the piece: A guy who, along with his wife, gave McCain $9,200 -- but who at first denied giving the donation and then said, "I'm still not going to vote for [McCain]." A GOP source reminds us about the recent story that Obama had to return $33,000 in contributions from two brothers in Gaza. The difference here is that the McCain camp hasn't yet returned the money Sargeant has bundled. Who wants to bet that by 6:00 pm ET on Friday that the campaign returns all of the money this guy bundled? Given the amounts of money both campaigns have to raise, there is bound to be a rogue element or two who infiltrates the campaign. It appears this Sargeant is just that, as there doesn't seem to be any evidence of a quid pro quo, which is what would make this story become bigger.
*** Mending fences? It's not on his schedule today, but local reporting suggests McCain has an additional stop in Wilmington, OH -- closed to the press -- "to meet with a small group of residents to gain a greater understanding of the difficult situation facing thousands of Wilmington-based workers at the DHL Air Park." Earlier in the week, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported on the role by McCain and campaign manager Rick Davis in helping a foreign company to acquire the Wilmington facility. By the way, this was one of the more impressive Dem oppo hits in quite some time. There's some research staff that's awfully proud of itself this morning, as they've made McCain have to play defense on the economy in a major swing state.
*** Not your average primary: Today, it's primary day in Tennessee, where incumbent Rep. Steve Cohen (D) -- a white Jew who represents a majority-black district in the Memphis area -- faces a challenge from Nikki Tinker, who is black. The race has received attention because of ads that Tinker is running that features an image of the Ku Klux Klan and another one that says, "While he's in our churches, clapping his hands and tapping his feet ... he's the only senator who thought our kids shouldn't be allowed to pray in school." The primary comes just as Matt Bai has a New York Times magazine piece looking at whether Obama represents the end of black and racial politics. Cohen, who replaced Harold Ford Jr. in Congress, won his primary in 2006 because the black vote was so split. This time, he's facing a smaller primary field.
*** On the trail: McCain holds a town hall in Lima, OH and attends a fundraiser Liberty Township, OH. And Obama begins his day in Minneapolis before heading to Chicago before his upcoming vacation to Hawaii.
Countdown to Dem convention: 18 days
Countdown to GOP convention: 25 days
Countdown to Election Day 2008: 89 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 166 days
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