The snow continues to fall in northern Ohio but will it be any warmer inside on stage at Cleveland State University for the 20th Democratic debate?
Tonight's one-on-one showdown in Cleveland may be Hillary Clinton's last opportunity to change the dynamic of the Democratic race before March 4 and head into the primaries in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont with some momentum
Polls in Ohio show her with a single digit lead, polls in Texas show a dead heat and a poll from the New York Times shows Obama with a 16 point lead nationally.
Since last Thursday's debate, where her "change you can Xerox" line was met with boos, Clinton has continued to ramp up her attacks on Barack Obama, throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.
Will Clinton tone it down when they are side-by-side on stage and opt to focus on a steady, measured comparison of their positions and qualifications?
Or set the Cuyahoga River on fire (not the first time) and unleash a scathing attack, with her eye on the clock ticking down to March 4 and the 370 delegates at stake?
Clinton is likely to focus on her experience and ability to lead on Day One (sound familiar?) and steer the conversation to the economy as much as possible.
Clinton has performed well in the debates that have been heavy on policy talk and a discussion about trade, jobs, and health care would allow her to talk nuts and bolts and contrast her command of the issues with her opponent.
The keys to the debate in Ohio are largely the same as they were in Texas. Once again, Clinton is looking to…
-- land a solid punch that knocks Obama back and puts him on the defensive (unlikely it centers on plagiarism)
-- turn in a boffo performance that will have all the political reporters and pundits talking (and not speculating that an answer was the beginnings of a concession speech)
-- force Obama into making a gaffe that could stem his momentum (Can she somehow get Obama to declare himself a disciple of Bo Schemblecher?)
-- unveil a new message (or find a way to drive home the current one about experience)
The first two are probably the most attainable for Clinton. Obama has not made a game-changing mistake and it's probably too late for any new message to make an impact (if it could, we would have heard it by now).
ABC News' Rick Klein is all over the action tonight and is live blogging at ABCNews.com: HERE.
Both Clinton and Obama stay in the Buckeye State on Wednesday. Clinton rallies voters at St. Clairsville High School and Obama does the same at The Ohio State University. Tuesday Obama received the endorsement of former Ohio State basketball star Greg Oden, who led the Buckeyes to the national championship game in 2007 but is not expected to be at the event.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
On the campaign front…
--1:30 pm ET: Attends Economic Solutions Summit at Ohio University Zanesville and Zane State College in Zanesville, OH.
--6:00 pm ET: Attends Campaign Rally at St. Clairsville High School, St. Clairsville, OH.
--9:00 am ET: Attends Early Vote Event in Houston, TX.
--10:00 am ET: Attends Early Vote Event in Houston, TX.
--1:15 am ET: Attends Early Vote Event near Houston Community College, Southeast Campus in Houston, TX.
--12:45 am ET: Attends Southwest Houston Office Opening in Houston, TX.