The Note: Good, Bad, or Ugly


Then there's the anti-whispering campaigns Obama has faced all along -- and Clinton certainly didn't shout them down on "60 Minutes" Sunday night. ABC's Jake Tapper picks up on an interesting Clinton locution: Asked if she believes Obama is a Muslim, she responded, "No! No! Why would I? There's nothing to base that on. As far as I know." (Read that again -- and pause before those final five words.)

Bloomberg columnist Al Hunt is predicting a rough 50-day stretch for Obama, regardless of what happens on Tuesday. "If Hillary Clinton wins the Texas and Ohio primaries on March 4, the race for the Democratic presidential nomination will go on for at least another, surely more acrimonious, seven weeks, until Pennsylvania votes," Hunt writes. "If Obama wins Texas, it's effectively over; then the Republicans and the media will escalate their scrutiny and criticism."

And yet . . . if all of these storylines don't add up to a pair of Clinton victories on Tuesday, the obits will flow. They've already appeared in surprising quantities, given the fact that the race is by no means over, and the Los Angeles Times' Peter Nicholas has the latest take -- with the unsurprising detail that no one could control Bill.

"The former president shelved the plan" to have him campaign elsewhere in the South on the even of the South Carolina primaries, Nicholas reports. "Day after day he stayed in South Carolina, getting into angry confrontations with the press and others. . . . Hillary Clinton may be one of the most disciplined figures in national politics, but she has presided over a campaign operation riven by feuding, rival fiefdoms and second-guessing of top staff members."

Does this seem like a strategist who's confident about moving on? "[Mark] Penn said in an e-mail over the weekend that he had 'no direct authority in the campaign,' describing himself as merely 'an outside message advisor with no campaign staff reporting to me.' 'I have had no say or involvement in four key areas -- the financial budget and resource allocation, political or organizational sides. Those were the responsibility of Patti Solis Doyle, Harold Ickes and Mike Henry, and they met separately on all matters relating to those areas.' "

Clinton is working it to what could be the end. "Borrowing a strategy former President Clinton used during his final campaigning days in 1992, the senator is on the trail nearly around-the-clock, jetting to Texas to deliver a pointed national security message and busing between Ohio towns with promises of better economic times," The Boston Globe's Susan Milligan writes. "On the stump, Clinton is fiery, focused, and seemingly unperturbed by the string of 11 straight losses she suffered in last month's primaries and caucuses."

As for what to expect on Tuesday: The latest Texas poll shows a race that couldn't be tighter. It's Obama 46, Clinton 45: "Hillary Clinton is favored by Hispanics, women and lower-income Anglos. Barack Obama has basically sewn up the black vote and does well among men and wealthy suburbanites," Jay Root writes in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

In Ohio, it's Clinton 49, Obama 45 in the new Quinnipiac Poll out Monday (down from a 19-point edge two weeks ago).

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