Time on Her Side: Obama Maintains Lead, but Clinton Might Have the Edge
Six weeks without a vote will test Obama's mettle as front-runner.
March 12, 2008— -- The Clinton campaign plans to use the coming six-week gap in primary voting to aggressively push its case that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., lacks the necessary experience to be president as the superdelegates loom by far as the most important voters in the race.
After Obama's Tuesday win in Mississippi, the strategy of defining the Illinois senator while the delegate count stays essentially frozen reflects a belief by Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign advisers — after withstanding perhaps the roughest month of Clinton's presidential campaign — that the New York senator now has a powerful ally on her side: time.
Mississippi marks the last primary or caucus for a six-week stretch — by far the longest pause in this year's nomination fight.
That gives Clinton a chance to battle Obama without time pressures that magnify every moment on the trail, allowing her to make a deliberate and methodical case in favor of her candidacy — and against Obama's.
"When a team comes from far behind to tie it, that team usually comes back and does well," said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist with close ties to the Clinton campaign. "This period is going to cause people to really think through who is best able to match up with John McCain."
Obama has drawn considerable momentum in the race by winning caucuses and primaries.
His victory in Saturday's Wyoming caucus, coupled with another win in Mississippi, mean he's on track to reclaim most or all of the delegates he lost with Clinton's resounding victories in the far larger states of Ohio and Texas last week.
But Clinton's campaign has proved more adept at seizing control of the race when no one is voting.
Just in the past few weeks, Clinton has kept pressure on Obama with a stinging TV ad suggesting he's unprepared to serve as commander in chief; left him on the defensive over NAFTA and controversial comments made by a high-level foreign-policy adviser; and made headlines by suggesting publicly that Obama could be considering as her running mate.