The Filter: 2.15.08

A round-up of this morning's must-read stories.

BLACK LEADER, A CLINTON ALLY, TILTS TO OBAMA
(Jeff Zeleny and Patrick Healy, New York Times)

Representative John Lewis, an elder statesman from the civil rights era and one of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most prominent black supporters, said Thursday night that he planned to cast his vote as a superdelegate for Senator Barack Obama in hopes of preventing a fight at the Democratic convention... His comments came as fresh signs emerged that Mrs. Clinton’s support was beginning to erode from some other African-American lawmakers who also serve as superdelegates. Representative David Scott of Georgia, who was among the first to defect, said he, too, would not go against the will of voters in his district.

CLINTON AT OSU: 'THE PEOPLE OF OHIO GET ME'
(Joe Hallet, Columbus Dispatch)

Sen. Hillary Clinton last night said she does not view Ohio as a must-win firewall to keep Sen. Barack Obama from winning the Democratic presidential nomination. “I really don’t think about it like that,” Clinton told The Dispatch following a 35-minute speech to 2,600 in Ohio State University’s French Field House. “I think about doing the very best I can. I’ve got a good campaign here. I’ve got wonderful, broad support across the state and we’re just going to work like crazy to get as many votes as we possibly can and hopefully we’ll do well.”

CLINTON, OBAMA OFFER SIMILAR ECONOMIC VISIONS 
(Jonathan Weisman and Anne E. Kornblut, Washington Post)

Clinton and Obama both promised that they would make the tax code more middle-income-friendly and would protect consumers from threats -- including predatory credit card companies and rapacious college lenders. Both candidates condemned corporate tax breaks that they say send jobs overseas. Both pledged to protect homeowners and said they would repeal President Bush's upper-income tax cuts while extending those for the middle class. Both promised to rein in credit card companies that arbitrarily raise interest rates, sending families into a downward spiral of debt. "I've been looking for ways to differentiate these two, and it hasn't been easy," said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute. This week's economic speeches do not "make it a whole lot easier," he added.

OBAMA CASTS HIS SPELL
(Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post)

Interestingly, Obama has been able to win these electoral victories and dazzle crowds in one new jurisdiction after another, even as his mesmeric power has begun to arouse skepticism and misgivings among the mainstream media. ABC's Jake Tapper notes the "Helter-Skelter cultish qualities" of "Obama worshipers," what Joel Stein of the Los Angeles Times calls "the Cult of Obama." Obama's Super Tuesday victory speech was a classic of the genre. Its effect was electric, eliciting a rhythmic fervor in the audience -- to such rhetorical nonsense as "We are the ones we've been waiting for. (Cheers, applause.) We are the change that we seek." That was too much for Time's Joe Klein. "There was something just a wee bit creepy about the mass messianism ... ," he wrote. "The message is becoming dangerously self-referential. The Obama campaign all too often is about how wonderful the Obama campaign is."

MCCAIN-OBAMA RACE COULD REDRAW THE ELECTORAL MAP
(Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal)

In recent presidential elections, the electoral map largely has been fixed, with certain regions predictably loyal to one party or another and the competition narrowed to fewer than 20 battleground states. But Barack Obama's success in rallying African-Americans and John McCain's difficulty with conservative evangelicals raise an intriguing question: Would a general election between the two put additional states -- particularly in the South -- into play?

CLINTON CAMP MAY REGRET LARGELY TURNING ITS BACK ON CAUCUS STATES
(Dan Balz, Washington Post)

Among the costliest decisions Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign has made this year was to largely cede caucus states to Barack Obama. It is one that, in retrospect, baffles Democratic strategists and, even more so, the operatives on Obama's team... Here is a simple way to understand the consequences of that choice. Take two states that held Super Tuesday contests on Feb. 5: big New Jersey, with 107 pledged delegates at stake, and tiny Idaho, with 18 delegates up for grabs. Clinton won New Jersey's primary and made headlines for doing so early on that night, while Obama won Idaho's caucuses long after many of those watching had gone to bed. But because of the rules of proportionality, Clinton netted just 11 more delegates than Obama from her New Jersey victory, while he gained 12 more than her by winning Idaho.

LARGE UNION BACKS OBAMA; ANOTHER IS LIKELY TO DO THE SAME
(Steven Greenhouse, New York Times)

Giving Senator Barack Obama new momentum, one of the nation’s largest labor unions, the United Food and Commercial Workers, endorsed him on Thursday. Another giant, the Service Employees International Union, was on the brink of backing him... The two endorsements could go far to help Mr. Obama, of Illinois, increase his support among Hispanics, who have overwhelmingly favored Mrs. Clinton, of New York. The two unions have many immigrant members... The S.E.I.U. has especially strong ties with the nation’s Hispanic leaders because it played a major role in the campaign to win a path to legalization for the nation’s illegal immigrants.

DEMS STUMPED FIGURING FLA., MICH. INTO DELEGATE EQUATION
(Fredreka Schouten, USA Today)

In the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination, the votes in Florida and Michigan didn't count when residents in those states went to the polls in January. But now Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are locked in a fierce battle for every possible convention delegate, prompting talk of a showdown at this summer's national convention and raising the specter of a divided party going into the November election...  Clinton is now pressing to ensure that the Florida and Michigan delegates are seated when the party meets Aug. 25-28 in Denver. "We think that when you have millions of people voting in primaries, those voices and voters ought to be heard," Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said Thursday. Obama campaign officials said Clinton's move was a deliberate attempt to circumvent the rules. The Illinois senator "took a pledge with the DNC and he stuck to it," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said. "This is Clinton trying to retrospectively change the rules." Leading Democrats said they see no easy fix.

 

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