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Tuesday, May 13, 2008
OBAMA'S RIGHT: IGNORE HILLARY
Today, Barack Obama did something he should have done weeks ago. He was criticized for it by the news media, but it was nonetheless the right decision. He decided to ignore the West Virginia primary and concentrate on his general election matchup with John McCain.
What's that, you say? He hasn't won the Democratic nomination yet? Sorry, from his vantage point, he has. Politics is about creating expectations. One reason Bush was able to win the Florida recount in 2000 is that his partisans were skilled at creating the belief that he had already won. It didn't matter whether they had or not; Bush and his surrogates said it enough times that it was taken as a plausible argument.
At this point, nothing can derail Obama other than some out-of-the-blue attack. By engaging with Clinton and pretending she's still in the race, Obama increases slightly the chance that such an attack might stick. So, he's not doing it anymore. He spent today in Missouri, a state that has already had its Democratic primary and will be important as a swing state in the general election. He's going to Michigan later in the week, a state that held a no contest primary which Clinton defrauded Obama into not campaigning in, but which will be important in the general election.
I don't think Clinton's continued presence in the race harms Obama. But that doesn't mean that Obama has any obligation to engage her. Let her stay in the race, but don't take the bait. The superdelegates are clearly breaking for Obama, there's no way Clinton can catch up in the pledged delegate count, and the thing's going to be officially over the day after the last primary (as even Clinton supporters are now conceding). Just start running ads and making attacks against McCain, and keep on visiting important general election states. If you act like the race is over, it will be over.
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