Accounts in the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal provide insights into the two presidential campaigns as they enter the traditional quiet-before-the-storm weeks between July 4 and the convention. Both campaigns have enormous challenges, but the very tight race provides plenty of time for either or both of them to reach peak performance just as the fall campaign opens in Denver and St. Paul.
The Journal’s John Emshwiller and Christopher Cooper report on Team Obama and note that the “Democratic fissures come as evidence is mounting that Clinton supporters aren’t falling easily into the Obama camp.” Nearly a third of Clinton primary voters are telling pollsters they won’t turn out to support Obama in the fall, and the bitterness over perceived sexism runs deep. “One high-profile example: pundits both on TV and in print referred to Sen. Clinton’s laugh as a ‘cackle,'” the article continues. “Separately, a joke by comedian Chris Rock comparing the candidate to the knife-wielding madwoman played by Glenn Close in the film ‘Fatal Attraction’ was picked up and parroted by others in the mainstream media.”
Of greatest concern: The more than 300 individuals who each raised a hundred grand or more for Hillary. Very few have switched over, and their commitment will be needed to supercharge Obama’s controversial decision to break his word and fund the fall campaign with private donations.
The obvious dilemma for Hillary supporters is the fact that if Obama wins, Clinton will never return to the Oval Office. If he loses, she is the presumptive nominee against the76 year old John McCain if he chooses to run for a second term.
Malcolm suggests it is late in the day for a campaign overhaul, but the new environment of rapid, sometimes massive shifts in public opinion works in the GOP’s favor, as does McCain’s well established brand. The public knows McCain, and there isn’t going to be much need for “introducing” him. There is a need for a relentless focus on security, energy, integrity and tax cuts as the campaign unfolds, and Steve Schmidt and his new lieutenants are providing just that as Malcolm details.