Clinton Campaign Unable To Respond Effectively To Obama’s Momentum

The Clinton advisers might be in a state of panic after their poor showing yesterday, and they certainly don’t appear to know what to do. This problem began even before Super Tuesday. Frank Rich mocks the televised town hall Clinton held prior to Super Tuesday as a “Bush-style pseudo-event.”

Like the scripted “Ask President Bush” sessions during the 2004 campaign, this town hall seemed to unfold in Stepford. The anodyne questions (“What else would you do to help take care of our veterans?”) merely cued up laundry lists of talking points. Some in attendance appeared to trance out.

Rich also reminds readers of how Clinton played the race card after the Iowa caucus when they found that the campaign was in trouble:

Scattered black faces could be seen in the audience. But in the entire televised hour, there was not a single African-American questioner, whether to toss a softball or ask about the Clintons’ own recent misadventures in racial politics.

The Clinton camp does not leave such matters to chance. This decision was a cold, political cost-benefit calculus. In October, seven months after the two candidates’ dueling church perorations in Selma, USA Today found Hillary Clinton leading Mr. Obama among African-American Democrats by a margin of 62 percent to 34 percent. But once black voters met Mr. Obama and started to gravitate toward him, Bill Clinton and the campaign’s other surrogates stopped caring about what African-Americans thought. In an effort to scare off white voters, Mr. Obama was ghettoized as a cocaine user (by the chief Clinton strategist, Mark Penn, among others), “the black candidate” (as Clinton strategists told the Associated Press) and Jesse Jackson redux (by Mr. Clinton himself).

The result? Black America has largely deserted the Clintons. In her California primary victory, Mrs. Clinton drew only 19 percent of the black vote. The campaign saw this coming and so saw no percentage in bestowing precious minutes of prime-time television on African-American queries.

There are more signs today of how the Clinton race baiting has hurt. Douglas Wilder remains upset about some of Bill Clinton’s remarks:

The nation’s first elected black governor said Saturday he is not ready to excuse comments former President Bill Clinton made about Barack Obama.In campaigning for his wife last month on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Clinton called Obama’s opposition to the Iraq war “a fairy tale.” Clinton suggested Obama had toned down his early anti-war fervor during his 2004 Senate campaign.

“Barack Obama is not a fairy tale. He is real,” former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder told reporters at a Democratic fundraiser as the former president spent the day campaigning for Hillary Rodham Clinton in Richmond and three other Virginia cities.

The grandson of slaves, who was elected in 1989 in what was once the Confederate capital, endorsed Obama last month. Now Richmond’s mayor, Wilder’s comments still get the attention of the state’s black voters, though his influence has waned since he left office 15 years ago.

Clinton also implied that an Obama victory in South Carolina would amount to a reward based on race, like the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 20 years earlier.

Wilder said the former president’s comments stung him and other black voters and diminished their respect for Clinton.

“It’s not just me (who) feels that; any number of people feel that,” Wilder said. “A time comes and a time goes. The president has had his time.”

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  1. 1
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  2. 2
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