Sometimes, the campaigns just talk to each other and use insider blogs like mine as the medium.
TO: Interested Parties
FR: The Obama Campaign
RE: Quasi-incumbent finally gets scrutiny and stumbles
It is clear that just as voters are becoming more engaged in the campaign in the early primary states that Senator Clinton and her campaign have abandoned the politics of “let’s have a conversation,” in favor of purely tactical posturing.
Questioning and challenging what principles, if any, each candidate is standing on when they take a position or change that position is the normal part of the political process. Our campaign regularly fields questions on significant policy issues, even as we did when Hillary Clinton attacked Barack by calling him naïve and irresponsible for a position which she has agreed with him on 2 of the 3 occasions she has addressed it.
Our campaign will continue to speak openly and honestly about the challenges facing Americans and on our nation on issues as vital as Social Security, torture and international diplomacy and Barack Obama will continue tell Americans not just what they want to hear, but he believes they need to hear as well. Granted, we can see why she and her campaign might continue to get irritated by tough questions about her changing positions – they must be very tough to answer.
On Social Security, Clinton had been saying that nothing was on the table in terms of how to repair and strengthen Social Security. But in a conversation with a voter that the AP overheard, it appears to be clear that raising taxes is on the table in a very real way. [AP, 10/11/07]
When it comes to diplomacy, Clinton moved from thinking it “irresponsible and, frankly, naïve” for a president to offer a meeting with someone we don’t agree with to saying: “Here’s what I would do as president: I would engage in negotiations with Iran, with no conditions.” In all fairness, that was the position she seemed to have before launching her attack on Obama for his commonsense policy of not fearing meetings with anyone. [MSNBC,”Countdown with Keith Olberman,” 1/23/07; Clinton, YouTube Debate, 7/23/07; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAlyYtJxaio; Clinton Event, Canterbury, NH, 10/11/07; WP 10/10/07]
On her torture position, first she was for some forms of torture then she opposed all forms, then she refused to tell the Washington Post whether the administration’s policy was one she would continue. [Statement, 9/28/06; New York Post, 10/21/06; NY Daily News, 9/27/07; New York Daily News, 9/27/07]
And then, of course, she did hedge her bet on the pledge she made to the early primary states. It hasn’t been exactly popular in the states with early contests for Clinton to break her word to them. [DiStaso column, Union Leader, 10/10/07]
And, in response to some of the rather breathless political assertions in their memo today, we would make the following points
· In the one state where the race is engaged, Iowa, the last four public polls show a race within the margin of error between Obama and Clinton, with Edwards in third. This is not because it’s the one state in the union immune to Senator Clinton’s appeal. It is because the voters are paying close attention, they know the most about Barack Obama and are responding to his message. As other early states get more engaged, we will see a much closer race.
· We just started advertising in New Hampshire two weeks ago. Even before that, Obama has a solid vote foundation of 20%. We will build on that in the coming weeks thru additional advertising and candidate visits, like the trip this week where Barack unveiled his energy plan.
· South Carolina is a very close two way contest between Obama and Clinton already. We have a solid base and will expand on that as the election draws nearer.
· We have the strongest precinct organization in Nevada, which will be paramount. Organization will win the Nevada caucus. There is no existing list of prior caucus goers at the precinct level and turnout estimates vary wildly.
Senator Clinton in all these states is the quasi-incumbent. In Iowa, where the race is most developed, over 70% of the electorate is not choosing her, producing a dangerously low ceiling.
And let’s be clear: Hillary Clinton must win every contest. They forcefulness with which they embrace the aura of inevitability will make it shatter if she does not win in every single state. Inevitability does not come with state exceptions. Early setbacks will fundamentally alter the race, especially given our campaign’s financial and organizational strength that will allow us to capitalize fully on early momentum on February 5, where we already have much more developed campaign organizations than the Clinton campaign.
The Clinton operation is the greatest money machine in the history of American politics. The fact that Barack Obama, who has been on the national scene only briefly and who had no national fundraising network in place, has outraised Clinton by $12 million dollars this year and has a huge lead in the number of donors speaks to the hunger for change and an alternative to the frontrunner.
So, while the Clinton campaign attempts to duck legitimate questions on their way to their believed coronation, we will stay focused on telling the American people not just what they want to hear but what the need to hear, continue to build a grassroots movement for change and stay focused on measuring our progress in the early states, the only barometer that matters right now.
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Marc Ambinder is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.