The Note: Enter Sandman


Welcome to the longest three weeks of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's political existence (which also happen to be the shortest three weeks of her political career).

Big Mo was slow coming out of the gate, but he's a good closer -- and Clinton is about to learn whether he can find you even if you flee to Texas and Ohio. This could get ugly: We will now see just how much Camp Clinton wants this thing (as measured by what the candidate and her retooled campaign will do to try to shake things up).

By any objective measure, Sen. Barack Obama is now the Democratic frontrunner: money, momentum, enthusiasm, and now delegates, too. Three contests on Tuesday resulted in three drubbings, with Obama, D-Ill., providing dramatic answers to just about every question that lingered about his candidacy.


"Obama had his most impressive night of the competition, not just in the size of his victory margins but in the breadth of support he attracted from men and women, young voters and old, African Americans and whites," Dan Balz and Tim Craig write in The Washington Post.

"The results left Clinton, the one-time front-runner for the Democratic nomination, in a deep hole. . . . Obama's winning streak, his large margins and the prospect of more victories next week put Clinton in a tenuous position, despite the close delegate competition."

Momentum, we have found thee (though we know we've thought that before): Since Super Tuesday, Obama is 8-0, headed for a 10-0 run -- and the races haven't even been close.

That's what makes the march to March 4 both a painfully long and a woefully short window for Clinton, D-N.Y.; if the campaign has been holding onto some delicious nugget of oppo-research, or a foolproof line of attack against a candidate who still is untested, this is their cue.

"The lopsided nature of Senator Barack Obama's parade of victories on Tuesday gives him an opening to make the case that Democratic voters have broken in his favor and that the party should coalesce around his candidacy," Adam Nagourney writes in The New York Times.

"The sheer consistency of Mr. Obama's victories over the last few days certainly suggests that many Democratic voters have gotten past whatever reservations they might have had about his electability or his qualifications to be president."

Obama now has a 27-delegate edge over Clinton, overcoming the big gap she continues to enjoy (but may not be able to count on all that much longer) among superdelegates, according to ABC's delegate scorecard.

It is Obama's cue to keep rolling. Now those calls to superdelegates just might be persuasive (and more of them are set to roll out, per the Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet) and the smart money folks will begin hedging their bets.

His speech Wednesday morning in Wisconsin will be the start of his effort to pulverize the remaining bulkheads of Clinton support -- as well as a signal that he won't just be playing defense on his way to the nomination. He plans to speak on economic policy at a General Motors plant in Janesville, taking on both of his opponents at once while tweaking Clinton on trade and the Iraq war:

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