Author: Ben Dalgetty
Senator Barack Obama picked up a major endorsement on Friday, March 21 when New Mexico Governor and former Democratic Primary candidate Bill Richardson said, “[Obama is a] once-in-a-lifetime leader.” Richardson, who served as the Secretary of Energy and U.N. Ambassador during President Bill Clinton’s administration, said, “I think that Sen. Obama has something special,” CNN reported. Clinton campaign senior strategist Mark Penn said, “The time that [Richardson] could have been effective has long since passed” in reference to the contested Texas primary with its large Hispanic voter population. Richardson later spoke to CNN’s John King and said, “I resent the fact that the Clinton people are now saying that my endorsement is too late because I only can help with Texans, with Texas and Hispanics, implying that that’s my only value.” James Carville, who worked as a White House adviser for Clinton and currently serves as a campaign advisor, said “[Richardson’s endorsement] came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic,” the Times reported. Carville has since said that he stands behind his comments despite Richardson terming them “gutter tactics,” and told CNN he was fully aware of their impact.
With only 27 days until the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary and 152 days until the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, however, the Democratic Party still has no idea who they are going to send to the general election on Nov. 4 against Senator John McCain.
Since the Feb. 19 primaries, in which Obama won his 10th straight victory, Senator Hillary Clinton has remained in the race through victories in Ohio and Rhode Island. However, Obama has maintained a dominant position, adding Texas, Vermont, Wyoming and Mississippi to his conquests. The current delegate count varies depending on which source it’s taken from, but the average pledge delegate for Clinton using the New York Times, CNN, Associated Press, Obama Campaign and Clinton Campaign numbers is 1,198 with 236 super delegates, netting her 1,434 total delegates. Obama has a definite advantage with pledged delegates, averaging 1,371, but lags slightly with 208 super delegates. Obama enjoys a 145-point lead over Clinton with an average of 1,579 heading towards the convention on Aug. 22.
While the Democratic candidates have become bogged down in campaign controversy and trench warfare, McCain is enjoying his secured nomination. He traveled to Iraq on March 16, a trip which Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri said was “only for the sake of his candidacy,” Time Magazine reported. He also had eBay’s former CEO Meg Whitman sign on as national co-chairperson and accidentally said Iran was supplying al Qaeda, a gaffe he apologized for immediately afterwards.
However, regardless of any problems or mistakes McCain makes, mainstream media attention remains squarely on the mudslinging war on the Democratic side. On March 12, former vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro resigned from her position on Clinton’s finance committee after an interview with California newspaper The Daily Breeze in which she said, “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color), he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.” Ferraro still refuses to apologize for her comments, instead speaking again to the The Daily Breeze where she said, “I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white. How’s that?”
The Obama campaign has suffered self-inflicted casualties as well, after the campaigns foreign policy advisor Samantha Power said in an interview with Scottish newspaper The Scotsman, “[Clinton] is a monster, too-that is off the record-she is stooping to anything . . . You just look at her and think, ‘Ergh.’ But if you are poor and she is telling you some story about how Obama is going to take your job away, maybe it will be more effective. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive.” Power apologized for her remarks the same night, noting she had long admired Clinton, then resigned the next day.
Recently, Obama has come under fire for his relationship with pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who has made numerous divisive remarks including that Clinton has an advantage because she is white and “ain’t never been called a ‘nigger!’ . . . [or] had her people defined as non-persons,” as Wright said in a Dec. 2007 sermon. While Obama and others have criticized the media’s sound-biting, taking long sermons and picking out of context quotes of Wright’s speech, it has still had an effect on the campaign.
Obama has distanced himself from Wright since the beginning of the campaign, and on March 14, the campaign announced, “Rev. Wright is no longer serving on the African American Religious Leadership Committee.” Wright’s actions and the growing controversy surrounding Obama’s connections to him prompted Obama’s March 18 speech titled “A More Perfect Union” at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
The speech lasted 37 minutes and touched upon the racially divided history of the United States and the legacy it has left behind. The speech was compared to inaugural addresses by Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt as well as Kennedy’s speech on religion in a New York Times editorial, which said, “Senator Barack Obama, who has not faced such tests of character this year, faced one on Tuesday. It is hard to imagine how he could have handled it better.”
Clinton is currently facing fire throughout the blogsphere over comments made describing a 1996 trip to Bosnia. In a speech on March 17, Clinton said, “There was a saying around the White House that if a place was too small, too poor or too dangerous, the president couldn’t go, so send the First Lady. That’s where we went.” Bosnia, however, was not considered too small, poor or dangerous for President Bill Clinton, as he visited the country in January of 1996 before the First Lady. The comedian Sinbad, who was on the trip, said, “I never felt that I was in a dangerous position. I never felt being in a sense of peril,” in an interview with the Washington Post. Reinforcing Sinbad’s account is that of Maj. Gen. William Nash, commander of U.S. troops in Bosnia during Clinton’s visit, who told the Post he was “unaware of any security threat to Clinton during her eight-hour stay in Tulza.” The NY Times reported that in a questioning about the Bosnia comment Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said, “It is possible in the most recent instance in which she discussed this that she misspoke in regard to the exit from the plane, but there is no question if you look at contemporaneous accounts that she was going to a potential combat zone, that she was on the front lines.” However, the Times noted that this was at least the second time she has described sniper fire-she also mentioned it in a Feb. 29 speech in Texas about why she was the best candidate to answer the “red phone.” The Bosnia war had ended in 1995, but in the speech Clinton said, “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”
Video, and Clinton’s schedule as First Lady, has surfaced since the speech which shows Clinton landing, being officially greeted and having a poem read to her by a child.
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