Chicago Sun-Times
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Sweet column: Despite memo lowering expectations, Obama team playing for wins Super Tuesday.


CHICAGO--Barack Obama campaign manager David Plouffe lowered Super Tuesday expectations on Monday, predicting that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will win more states and delegates than the Illinois senator.

But behind the scenes, the Obama camp has been aiming to create momentum out of Tuesday's voting -- no matter the outcome -- by being able to claim a number of wins in states, even if the victories did not yield many delegates.

That's why the Obama team decided to spend the past few days stumping in primary and caucus states with relatively few delegates.

Obama will vote this afternoon in Chicago, after flying in from Boston. He tentatively has a basketball game planned with brother-in-law Craig Robinson (Brown University's basketball coach) and former pro player Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer.

Clinton will cast her ballot from her Westchester County home after headlining a virtual town hall blitz telecast on cable and on the Web from New York. It included a segment anchored from her alma mater, Maine South High School in Park Ridge, the Chicago suburb where she grew up.

A Clinton aide I talked to in Los Angeles on Saturday, showing some signs of being road weary, said there was a time when their team thought the Feb. 5 Democratic balloting in 22 states would yield the nominee. Neither side -- Obama's nor Clinton's -- believe Tuesday's results will be conclusive.

"Our path to the nomination never factored in a big day for us on February 5," Plouffe said in his memo. "We fully expect Senator Clinton to earn more delegates on February 5th and also to win more states. If we were to be within 100 delegates on that day and win a number of states, we will have met our threshold for success and will be best-positioned to win the nomination in the coming months."

Clinton strategist Mark Penn, in a memo he issued this weekend, noted that "people had very limited information on Sen. Barack Obama as we go into millions of people voting on the two candidates," then quoted from three stories about Obama's work on disclosure of nuclear incidents, what he did to help laid-off workers and his stand on gun control.

Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if Penn had a point, Obama said, "Look, this was the same argument they made when I was running against Hillary Clinton. Mark Penn was saying I would never withstand them. And we seem to be doing all right so far."


Last night on Hannity & Colmes they talked to a democratic focus group in California. Sean Hannity asked Frank Lunz, the guy running the focus group, to ask the Obama supporters to name one thing Obama has accomplished as an elected official. Three women said they did not know of anything, then two guys hilariously said he's a good orator and he is inspirational. Lunz then chuckled and told them that being a good orator and being inspirational are personality traits, not accomplishments. That exchange says it all about the Obama con game and tells you everything you need to know about the Obama supporters.

Hannity & Colmes is a pretty worthless gauge of how Democratic supporters feel across the country, wouldn't you think? Might as well have asked Rush Limbaugh his thoughts on the topic. Frank Lunz, by the way, is a Republican speechwriting expect who supports Obama. I don't think he'd be capable of being "conned."

Re Jerry / 10:30 am -
That focus group story means nothing. No one in that group would be able to name one thing HRC has accomplished as an elected official, either. Hell, I can't - and I follow politics pretty closely.

I don't think it is a con game. It's simply an excellent, and brilliant strategy to win. Hillary and Obama are both highly intelligent. Even as a republican, I enjoy watching them debate.

I was once suffered from "Clinton Delusion Syndrome". Now, in retrospect, I realize that negative attacks are self-defeating in the end. I would much rather see Hillary win, not because it would unite republicans (it would), but because I now empathize with her as a woman.

In Massachusetts while Afro-Americans have held the highest positions in government and in the US senate, women have never served in those positions. It's something I never thought about until recently. I have a guess why this is so. (It has something do due with patriarchy....)

There is no doubt that Obama has won my home town. Obama signs are the only ones around. If Hillary has a following, locally, it isn't a very vocal one. Northampton, MA would be a very interesting bellweather for democrats. It's the home of Smith College. It has longtime female mayor, and a history of feminism. (I guess they would write "herstory".)

Well, I can think of one accomplishment that is more important than passing legislation. Obama has taught constitutional law so he has actually read the Constitution! And that, my friends, is a big improvement over our current president!

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 5, 2008 8:35 AM.

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