- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Tuesday night’s Potomac Primary results seem to have crystallized an emerging trend from recent days: Barack Obama is gathering steam while team Clinton is left by the wayside trying to resurrect itself. However, the “Comeback Kid” has shown resiliency throughout the campaign, and the gap between the two contenders, as the Clinton camp pointed out yesterday, is negligible, roughly 40 delegates or 1 percent of the Democratic delegates at stake. Rather than wait for results from the three primaries, Hillary Clinton fled to Texas, where she leads in the polls and hopes voters from there and Ohio on March 4 will grant her the “firewall” she needs heading into the conventions. (This strategy, Mrs. Clinton well knows, proved unsuccessful for Rudy Giuliani.)

Mr. Obama, who beat Mrs. Clinton by a 75-24 margin in the District, 64-35 in Virginia and 60-36 in Maryland, has been aided by the mainstream media, which has provided scant scrutiny of his liberal record. Moderates who find Mr. Obama’s charisma, oratorical skills and promises to bridge partisan divides appealing would be better served by valuing policy over pizzazz. No doubt many bedazzled voters are unaware of his ranking as the most liberal senator in 2007 by National Journal (Mrs. Clinton ranked 16th). He proved himself blue, yet again, with his vote on Tuesday to deny legal protections for telecommunications companies cooperating with the government to fight terrorism.

On the Republican side, John McCain’s clean sweep practically ensures he will get his party’s nod. The McCain campaign has even called on rival Mike Huckabee to step aside, saying it is mathematically impossible for him to surpass Mr. McCain.

Tallies indicate there are 994 delegates still up for grabs; Mr. Huckabee has 241 delegates while Mr. McCain has 821. Mr. Huckabee needs 950 more delegates to capture the 1,191 delegates that would grant him the nomination; Mr. McCain needs just 370. While Mr. Huckabee pulled off impressive victories in Louisiana and Kansas, the numbers indicate Mr. Huckabee has slim chance of an upset going forward. Mr. McCain defeated Mr. Huckabee by healthy margins, 68 percent to 17 percent in the District, 55-29 in Maryland and a tighter 50-41 margin in Virginia.

Within the McCain camp there is growing unease about Mr. Huckabee’s doggedness, and indication that if he continues to hold out he will wear thin the fabric of goodwill the Republican Party is cloaking itself in.


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