"The shift in emphasis from head to heart is the latest stage in a running argument inside Clinton's camp that stretches back to her 2000 campaign, one that pits the voters' need to know their politicians against the comfort zone of a very private woman and the theories of her data-driven pollster," Smith writes.
The Clinton campaign now is soaring, optimistic, energetic, positive. Her new ad doesn't mention Obama or any of her other opponents, and her friends and relatives are fanning out over Iowa's 99 counties. But again there's a surrogate taking (just maybe) a different path.
A day after endorsing Clinton, D-N.Y., former senator Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., expanded on his views that Obama's middle name and Muslim roots are a good thing for a potential president (again ensuring that a national television audience knows that Barack Hussein Obama had a father and a grandfather who were Muslim.) "I've watched the blogs, try to say that you can't trust him because he spent a little bit of time in a secular madrassa," Kerrey said on CNN yesterday. "I feel quite opposite."
This comes hard on the (snowy) heels of Billy Shaheen's casual reference to Obama's past drug use. "Thematic? Who knows. Code? Orchestrated? Anyone's guess. But let's think about the cumulative effect. That is what matters. Only words are heard, seen, read . . . over and over," Kate Phillips writes for The New York Times. "Meanwhile, we'll wait and listen and watch. Whisper campaigns reverberate off the buzz words."
Clinton weighs in herself: "I think Sen. Kerrey was being, you know, very generous in what he said," she tells the Quad-City Times' Ed Tibbetts.
Yes, Kerrey was offering biographical details in the context of praising Obama, D-Ill. Yes, Kerrey has always spoken his own mind. Yes, Obama is proud of his diverse heritage.
But don't forget that Bob Kerrey is backing Clinton. In the realm of praise, shouldn't it be up to Obama and his backers what they want to emphasize and how? Malicious or not, how many times can Kerrey work "Barack Hussein Obama" into a sentence without looking like he's playing in Ann Coulter's sandbox?
Bill Clinton is inhabiting some of that same alternate-messaging space, most prominently with the Charlie Rose interview where he warned of the risk of elected someone with as little experience as Obama. "The fact that the former president is stealing a page from the same Republican playbook used against him 15 years ago underscores the threat Obama poses to the candidacy of Clinton's wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York," AP's Ron Fournier writes. "It also illustrates Clinton's penchant for rewriting history."
And this is hardly the Drudge-bait coverage the Clinton campaign wants when they put the former president out on the road. President Clinton said Monday night in South Carolina: "The first thing she intends to do is to send me and former President Bush and a number of other people around the world to tell them that America is open for business and cooperation again."
We're sure 41 can't wait for the assignment. "Bill is saying that George H. W. Bush would agree to participate in an assignment predicated on his son being publicly acknowledged as a failure -- and all Bush 41 has to do now is say that he wouldn't," Talking Point Memo's Eric Kleefeld writes. "And beyond that, do Democratic activists really want to hear that someone named George Bush will be recruited to assist in Hillary's foreign policy?"