In a massive win for Senator Barack Obama in South Carolina on Saturday he did what many felt was impossible. He put the Clinton's in a position where they couldn't spin the outcome. If the Clinton Operation had finished within say 15 points you would have heard some serious spin out of the best in the business. However, the drubbing that Obama put on Hillary is the kind of victory that he absolutely needed after two embarrassing losses in New Hampshire, where polls had him up 10+ points, and in Nevada, where even endorsements from the two biggest unions couldn't pull it off.
The Obama victory speech was amazing. As written on this blog after the MLK day debate I felt Obama was finally beginning to find that fighting spirit necessary to not just compete against the Clintons, but for what he would have to face against the Republicans as well. His speech was the first time I heard him effectively attack, and he was able to do it without mentioning the names of his opponents. It was succinct, it was powerful, and I think it will be effective.
Here's what has to happen now for Obama, he must put consecutive strong weeks together. Neither he or Hillary has been able to do this yet. It seems just as one of them is about to take control, they have an off week on the campaign trail. The endorsement of Ted Kennedy today brings on the best surrogate and advocate in the Democratic Party outside of Bill Clinton. Team Obama can't let it take them off the message. As stated after the John Kerry endorsement, DON'T GET LOST IN ENDORSEMENTS!!! His message of changing the tenor and tone in Washington in politics has to be the centerpiece, and Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, don't fit that message. Heard a commentator over the weekend say maybe an Oprah Winfrey and Caroline Kennedy Scholberg townhall? Now that would be the kind of image to show the country.
As for the Billary team. Saw Hillary on "Face the Nation" yesterday and thought she did ok, but the claiming of victories in Michigan and Florida are absurd and make the Clintons look like poor sports. Think that the Clinton campaign went off course in Monday nights debate when Hillary rose to the bait on the stupid Obama "Walmart" comment. Instead of taking the high road, a move hard for the Clinton's apparently, she had to hit back on the Tony Rezko charge. If she had let it go, the clip that would have been shown time and again was Obama's pointless attack. Instead it was all Hillary and 'slumlord Rezko' all week. Follow that up with President Clinton deciding to make a benign comment on Reagan and trying to make a central issue of the campaign.
Why the low road for Billary? I can't figure out the strategy. When Bill Clinton is positive, there is no one, Barack Obama included, who is as captivating and moving. Bill Clinton is best when he's not wagging his finger in the camera and turning red in the face. He has talked of 'hope' and 'change' for a long time, but has gotten lost in trying to live in the past of his presidency and justify his wifes candidacy on his years in the White House. The Clinton campaign has to reestablish the fact that this is the Hillary campaign and not the Billary campaign. This is the time for them to go on the positive and tout the depth of their plans for the country. This is the place they beat Obama, he tells a good narrative, but is at his worst when talking specifics of his proposals. The Clintons let him for almost two weeks talk of hope and attack them. They gave him a chance to whomp them in South Carolina and he did.
Feel like I am becoming as bad as the national media. I haven't mentioned John Edwards at all. I still connect with the message of Edwards and respect the campaign he is running. Think you can't underestimate the fact that he won the white vote in South Carolina. He is keeping the impoverished on the front burner of the campaign, which is courageous considering the fact there aren't many votes in that group. The back and forth of victories for Obama and Clinton are killing Edwards chances, continuing to keep him at a distant third and out of the headlines. Don't see where Edwards picks up enough delegates to win this thing or even be much of the "Kingmaker' people say he will be, but overall am impressed by the effort John Edwards has put forth and the issues which he has stood for.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the 17people response to the State of the Union.