The Clinton campaign audaciously tried to lower expectations for itself on Friday, putting out a memo and arguing on a conference call with reporters that there's "a problem" with Barack Obama if he cannot win Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, and Vermont on March 4th.
The Clinton campaign made this argument even though its top surrogates have been arguing for weeks that the former first lady can -- and must -- win both Ohio and Texas on March 4th. The effort to move the goal post is likely a last-minute realization on the part of the Clinton camp that Texas, which allocates delegates based on a quirky primary-caucus system, might be slipping away from the former first lady.
"If he cannot win all of these states with all this effort, there's a problem," wrote Clinton strategist Mark Penn in a memo released to the press.
Howard Wolfson, Clinton's communications director, defended the memo, saying, "If Senator Obama is, by their admission, essentially, the de facto nominee, he ought to win all these contests."
"He has all the advantages," Wolfson continued. "He's got great press. He's got a huge spending disparity. He's telling people that he's the nominee. He acting like he's the nominee. So, if he doesn't win all four of the contests, I think it demonstrates that there is a concern on the part of Democrats with giving him the nomination. And we're banking that that concern is real."
The Clinton campaign's effort to lower the bar and argue that it only has to win one March 4th contest comes despite:
-- James Carville saying that if Clinton does not win Ohio and Texas "this thing is done."
--Bill Clinton saying: "If she wins Texas and Ohio I think she will be the nominee. If you don't deliver for her, I don't think she can be. It's all on you."
-- Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Clinton supporter who is pivotal to her hopes of carrying the Keystone State on April 22nd, telling NBC: "I think she has to win in both Ohio and Texas. I think President Clinton has sort of said that. And I agree with that."
Obama Adviser Urged to Come Clean on Canadian Contacts
Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee was challenged by Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson on Friday to answer whether he had contact with the Canadian government, embassy, or anyone who would relay a conversation to the Canadian government regarding NAFTA.
"Very simple question," said Wolfson. "It deserves a very simple answer: Has Austan Goolsbee had any contact with anyone in the Canadian government or the embassy to send such a message?"
Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Wolfson said if Goolsbee signaled that Obama's anti-NAFTA rhetoric shouldn't be taken seriously, it would represent "saying one thing and doing another."
On Thursday, Goolsbee told ABC's Jennifer Parker that Canada's consul general in Chicago contacted him "at one point to say 'hello' because their office is around the corner."
Goolsbee refused, however, to deny whether he downplayed Obama's anti-NAFTA rhetoric.
McCain: Dems' Anti-NAFTA Stance Would Hurt War on Terror
John McCain argued Friday that the Obama and Clinton plans to demand a renegotiation of NAFTA would hurt international relations and the war in Afghanistan.