Hillary: Ready On Day … 57?

By Jennifer Parker

Feb 18, 2008 10:33am

Matt Mosk of the Washington Post takes a look today at the peculiar Texas primary/caucus system.

His story contains some stunners about the Clinton campaign’s apparent ignorance of this process (emphases below added):

"Supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are worried that convoluted delegate rules in Texas could water down the impact of strong support for her among Hispanic voters there, creating a new obstacle for her in the must-win presidential primary contest.

"Several top Clinton strategists and fundraisers became alarmed after learning of the state’s unusual provisions during a closed-door strategy meeting this month, according to one person who attended.

"What Clinton aides discovered is that in certain targeted districts, such as Democratic state Sen. Juan Hinojosa’s heavily Hispanic Senate district in the Rio Grande Valley, Clinton could win an overwhelming majority of votes but gain only a small edge in delegates. At the same time, a win in the more urban districts in Dallas and Houston — where Sen. Barack Obama expects to receive significant support — could yield three or four times as many delegates."

Ummm…these rules have been in place since last year, guys.

Publius writes:

"Good lord, let’s see if I have this right. The Clinton campaign decides to cede every post-Super Tuesday state to Obama under the theory that Texas and Ohio will be strong firewalls. After – after – implementing this Rudy-esque strategy, they ‘discovered’ that the archaic Texas rules will almost certainly result in a split delegate count (at best).

"While they were busy ‘discovering’ the rules, however, the Obama campaign had people on the ground in Texas explaining the system, organizing precincts, and making Powerpoints. I know because I went to one of these meetings a week ago. I should have invited Mark Penn I suppose. (ed. Maybe foresight is an obsolete macrotrend.)

"In this respect, Texas is simply a microcosm of the larger campaign dynamics. In fact, if the Clinton campaign were a corporation, the shareholders would have pretty good grounds for a derivative suit for Texas alone."

And Hilzoy also weighs in:

"When I read this, I dissolved in giggles after the first sentence. It was that part about the Texas delegate selection rules ‘creating a new obstacle for her that got me. In what sense are the Texas rules a ‘new obstacle?’ Were they only recently passed? Not as far as I can tell — here, for instance, is a pdf about them from August 2007, which should have given the Clinton campaign ample time to get up to speed."

Hilzoy offers "possible analogies — would I describe the existence of the Pacific Ocean as ‘creating a new obstacle’ for my plan to walk from Baltimore to Beijing? or the fact that five is a prime number as ‘creating a new obstacle’ to my proving that it is a multiple of two?

"Note to self: If I ever run for office and base my campaign on the idea that I am ready to lead from day one, I must remember to actually run an effective campaign."

As Clinton-backing Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said of the Clinton campaign in another one of his moments of candor, "It sure didn’t look like they had a game plan after Super Tuesday."

The largest organizations Clinton and Obama have ever run are their campaigns.

It’s hard to argue that Clinton has run the better, more effective one.

And while how one campaigns isn’t necessarily a measure of how one will govern, it might give one reason to question the "Ready on Day One" slogan.

What say you?

- jpt

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