The tidbit from the weekend that Clinton's rivals had the most fun distributing speaks to her potential impact on down-ballot races. Citing a survey by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza And Shailagh Murray report that Clinton and Obama are "trailing former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) in the 31 Democratic-held House districts regarded as most imperiled in 2008, and even potentially serving as a drag on those lawmakers' reelection chances." (Lake, it should be noted, polls for Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and asking about "liberal policies" may be a bit pushy for our liking.)
This is the backdrop for Bayh -- a former 2008 candidate (like Vilsack, briefly) himself -- to endorse Clinton at 1 pm ET in Washington today (taking away attention, oh-so coincidentally, from Obama's trip to the Big Apple). "Bayh, who had already been oft-discussed as a promising potential vice presidential pick for Clinton, had held back on endorsing her in part because of doubts about her popularity in Indiana, Democratic sources said," write Politico's Mike Allen and Avi Zenilman. "His endorsement could help undermine the argument of her rivals for the Democratic nomination that she would not be electable in a national contest."
With third-quarter fund-raising ending this weekend -- and Obama headed to Clinton's New York turf today (where he'll pick up the endorsement of the New York City correction officers' union) -- this is a critical phase for Obama.
It's enough to prompt a David Plouffe memo, which refers to Clinton as the "quasi-incumbent" who must win Iowa -- and discusses Obama's "hidden vote" that isn't registering in polls. Per the Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet, "Those hidden souls in the Obama army Plouffe writes about are younger voters who escape pollsters because they have cell phones, not land lines. Plouffe is depending heavily on this demographic to win the Iowa caucus -- if the campaign team for Obama can deliver them."
The Chicago Tribune's John McCormick writes up Obama's difficulties in nailing down working-class voters. "Obama has done well attracting the Chardonnay crowd, but he has had less success winning over Joe Sixpack," McCormick writes. Axelrod's explanation: "name recognition." (They better hope they have a better plan being executed as we speak -- one that exludes the word "arugula.")
The Obama camp is boasting of some 75,000 new donors this quarter -- with the total number of donors at 333,319 so far in the campaign, ABC's Jonathan Greenberger reports. But unlike the end of the second quarter, where Obama's eye-popping fundraising figures were the story by themselves, no one will be surprised if he dominates the money race in the quarter that ends this weekend. And money alone doesn't make a contender (unless you're Mike Bloomberg).
"Even before the totals are announced . . . some of the donors who have helped raise millions for Obama are beginning to ask when the gap in polls between Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will finally begin to narrow," write The Washington Post's Perry Bacon Jr. and Matthew Mosk. "Some Obama supporters are pushing him to make a change in strategy: a full, no-holds-barred attack on Clinton and aspects of her husband's legacy."