The Note: Enter Sandman


The stakes are these for Clinton: She needs a resounding sweep of both Texas and Ohio. Among her advantages: two more debates; three weeks to direct scrutiny at Obama; a delegate count that will continue to deny anyone the magic number in the foreseeable future; and the knowledge that everything we've always thought we've known about the race has turned out to be terribly wrong at every turn.

Clinton is (as much as is possible) recasting herself as the scrappy challenger -- a role dictated by circumstance, but a role Clintons seem to enjoy. Her Tuesday night speech and its very venue -- El Paso, Texas -- told the story of her race from here: Her eyes are on Texas and Ohio, and she needs Latino voters to come through for her.

"Lone Star Latinos, Buckeye endorsements and women -- these are three factors that must come through for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to reclaim the Democratic Party's presidential nomination that once appeared hers," Christine Bellantoni writes in the Washington Times.

"I'm the underdog," Clinton told a Wisconsin interviewer on Tuesday. That cuts several ways: "The campaign now confronts naysaying 'national media chatter' and 'nervous supporters,' " a Clinton adviser tells Newsweek's Arian Campo-Flores.

Who wants that tag, anyway? "Barack Obama might keep calling himself the underdog. But from now on, that dog won't hunt," Paul West writes in the Baltimore Sun.

"His smashing victories in three Mid-Atlantic primaries Tuesday will likely be seen as a turning point in the 2008 presidential contest."

The Clinton campaign shake-up that now claims deputy campaign manager Mike Henry in addition to Patti Solis Doyle give the impression, at least, of a campaign that's moving in a new direction. (But it may be worth pondering -- how would this election have been different if Clinton had taken Henry's advice and skipped Iowa?)

No looking back for Clinton -- not even a mention of the three jurisdictions that voted on Tuesday, or a word of congratulations for Obama. "Senator Hillary Clinton is moving on. Big Time," ABC's Kate Snow and Eloise Harper report.

"With one of the biggest crowds she's seen in weeks, Clinton arrived at the University of Texas El Paso Don Haskins Arena with an entrance fitting for a rock star."

A telling line from The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut: "Clinton has made a habit of ignoring contests she loses."

Here's one potential game-changer: Former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., is at least considering a Clinton endorsement -- those not-so-nice things he said about her notwithstanding. "Though he sometimes aligned himself with Obama -- and against Clinton -- as a candidate, several Edwards campaign insider say Edwards began to sour on Obama toward the end of his own campaign, and ultimately left the race questioning whether Obama had the toughness needed to prevail in a presidential race," per ABC News.

On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., offered the line of the night, in the last words spoken by any of the candidates Tuesday night: "My friends, I promise you, I am fired up and ready to go."

Yes, Obama heard that, and he's looking forward to the general election as well, thank you very much.

But nothing's been easy for McCain this election cycle, so why should it start on a night that he, too, enjoyed a clean sweep? Somebody STILL hasn't told former governor Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., that this thing isn't over.

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