- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign aides are saying Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would need to win the next three large states of Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania by more than 20 point margins in order to close the gap between the two. After winning in Wisconsin and Hawaii yesterday, Mr. Obama leads by 159 pledged delegates, campaign manager David Plouffe told reporters today.

Under the worst case scenario in the contests to come, Mr. Obama would retain a delegate lead of about 150, Mr. Plouffe predicted.

Mr. Plouffe said he is amused and considers it lunacy when Clinton aides suggest they are nearly tied.

They are going to have to win landslides from here on out to erase [the Obama lead], he said.

Clinton advisers quickly disputed the math that she would need huge wins in the March 4 Texas and Ohio races and predicted she will close the gap substantially after the final contest in Puerto Rico on June 7. Clinton adviser Harold Ickes said its a nice try that Mr. Plouffe suggested the former first lady would need to win 65 percent of the vote in the big states. Theres no expectation here were going to hit that number, he said. Texas and Ohio loom large, they are critically important, they are big states [and] there are a lot of delegates at stake, Mr. Ickes said. But heading into the March 4 contests Mr. Obama has several advantages: He has won more pledged delegates by winning state contests, he wooed three superdelegates away from Mrs. Clinton yesterday, and he outraised her by at least $20 million in January. Both candidates were getting boosted by outside groups a pro-Clinton 527 group formed and is running ads on her behalf while Mr. Obama nabbed a major national endorsement from the Teamsters union. He also won the backing of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. The Clinton campaign also began a two-pronged offensive today to try and stymie Mr. Obama’s momentum. Point one Mr. Obama is inexperienced and even his supporters can’t name his accomplishments. The Clinton team is circulating a video they have labeled “Must-See TV” of Texas State Sen. Kirk Watson failing to name any accomplishments boasting the Obama name, in an interview with Chris Matthews of MSNBC. “I’m not going to be able to name you specific items of legislative accomplishment … I’m not going to be able to do that tonight,” Mr. Watson said. “One of the things that Senator Obama does is he inspires.”

As for point two Team Clinton also has created “Delegate Hub” a spin off its campaign creations of “Hillary Hub” and “Fact Hub” to outline the facts as the candidates try to win the delegates necessary to clinch the nomination. “FACT: Neither candidate can secure the nomination without automatic delegates,” or what the campaign used to call superdelegates members of Congress and local and state party activists whose votes are needed at the convention to win the nomination, reads an entry on Delegate Hub. “The Obama campaign is trying to shut down the Democratic race before the rest of the country votes. There are still many states and territories that have not voted with over 1,000 delegates at stake,” the campaign notes on the site. The Clinton site also is pushing for Florida and Michigan delegates to be seated at the convention, even though the Democratic National Committee has voted that those delegates are nonbinding since the states broke the rules and held elections too early. Mrs. Clinton won in both states, though in Michigan she was the only viable candidate on the ballot, after all the candidates agreed they would not campaign in either state. Mr. Obama’s team, meanwhile, is brushing off criticism from both Mrs. Clinton and probably Mr. McCain that Mr. Obama does not offer specifics. In a new Web video, the campaign outlines an Obama “Blueprint for Change,” a 64-page book filled with policy plans similar to what former Sen. John Edwards mailed to households of Iowa Democrats last year. “Some people say Barack Obama doesn’t provide any details. They say he speaks about change and hope but doesn’t offer specifics,” a narrator says in the video, pointing viewers to the Obama campaign Web site where they can download the “blueprint.”


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