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« FEC Reports -- Northern Mississippi Valley | Blog Home Page | Dem Surprises In MS »

Morning Thoughts: Repeat If Necessary

Good Wednesday morning. As in Iowa and New Hampshire, campaign staffers have mere minutes to clean up their Pennsylvania apartments and move on toward North Carolina and Indiana. Weary staffers got the message last night as well: The fight goes on. Here's what Washington watches this morning:

-- The Senate meets this morning to continue consideration of a bill to improve insurance for disabled veterans, before moving on to a bill that would promote fair pay among men and women. On the House side, members take up two bills dealing with government contractors and federal spending, as well as a bill that would amend the Small Business Act and a resolution expressing condolences over the passing of conservative intellectual icon William F. Buckley. President Bush meets King Abdullah of Jordan today at the White House before addressing small business owners in the East Room. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in Washington as well, and he will meet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a Georgetown hotel.

-- The big news this morning is the ten-point win Hillary Clinton took last night in the crucial Pennsylvania primary. The margin is virtually spot on with expectations, and this morning is one for victory laps. She won with big margins around Scranton, around Pittsburgh and in Allentown, while keeping Obama's margins down in critical suburban Philadelphia -- he won Delaware and Chester Counties by just ten points, while Clinton won Montgomery County by two points and easily cruised to victory in northern Bucks County. Exit polls showed Clinton won white voters by a 62%-38% margin, slightly less than her 64%-34% margin in Ohio, but significant nonetheless. But among men, she lost by just four points, while winning women by fourteen. The gender gap, once again, provided the margin of victory.

-- But Clinton faces a major challenge. On her marathon sprint through the morning shows, Clinton made sure to urge viewers to head to her website and drop off a few bucks. Financial disclosure reports show Clinton owes more to vendors than she had in the bank at the beginning of April, while Barack Obama had a huge cash on hand advantage that he used in Pennsylvania. The Keystone victory, though, gives Clinton the ability to raise big amounts of cash online, and the campaign says it is taking in a pretty hefty haul: Through 11:30 p.m., the website had generated $2.5 million, the New York Post writes this morning. Clinton is going to need a lot more than that to catch up with Obama, but last night's Pennsylvania victory is a good start.

-- No one wins without a loser, and this morning, Barack Obama's campaign team is shaking off the hangover of a big defeat. The rival campaign argues that Clinton's win in Pennsylvania doesn't mean all that much, given that she is virtually certain not to pick up the delegates necessary to cut into Obama's 127-delegate head start. One Obama adviser compared Pennsylvania to a baseball game: Clinton's behind by a few runs, but with Pennsylvania's 158 delegates off the table, it's like leaving men on base in the seventh inning. Sure, Clinton has the eighth and the ninth, but the only thing that's changed from last night is that another three outs went by without the score really changing.

-- Clinton's campaign is less subtle about what the Pennsylvania primary means. While Obama's folks rely on advisers to get the word out (and Clinton's do too, to be fair), the candidate herself has something to say on the matter: "With his extraordinary financial advantage, why can't he win a state like this one if that's the way it turns out," Clinton asked, per CBS News. Obama did outspend Clinton on television and radio somewhere in the 2.5- to 3-to-1 neighborhood, and he had six weeks to introduce himself to voters around the state. Given that he lost to Clinton by a ten-point margin after spending that money and time, last night's contest should be considered a real, painful loss.

-- Early estimates of delegate totals show Obama has crossed yet another threshold, having now secured more than 1,700 delegates, just over 300 short of the 2,024 he will need to win the nomination. To reach the magic number relying only on pledged delegates, Obama would have to achieve the virtually impossible and win three quarters of the 408 pledged delegates available in the nine remaining contests. Instead, it is much more likely that super delegates will be the ones to award the nomination to the Illinois senator. While Clinton's ten-point win isn't going to provoke the rush of super delegates Obama was hoping for, he did pick up one today, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry, who became the latest party leader to endorse after saying he would hold back, The Oklahoman reports. If Obama is going to get some new momentum, or slow Clinton's, he needs a few more supers on his side by week's end.

-- Meanwhile, the results are a mixed bag for John McCain, who is once again relegated to the end of our thoughts. He's getting little attention and not exactly winning huge amounts of votes -- aside from a stop in Ohio yesterday, McCain is spending the week in solidly red states. Today, he stops in Inez, Kentucky, a small town close to the West Virginia border, for the third day of his "Time for Action" tour. The most notable feature of Inez: It is home to a lawyer by the name of Mike Duncan, who also happens to be chairman of the Republican National Committee. Duncan will be in attendance at McCain's speech today. Less attention, fewer resources and time spent in heavily red states has to make one wonder whether McCain really does benefit from a continued Democratic nomination fight. If it gets uglier, he'll just have to suck it up and face a weakened Democratic nominee.

-- One positive note for McCain: If he's sticking to the Midwest, which his travel schedule of late suggests, that means his campaign thinks he has the Mountain West, from home state Arizona to New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado, locked up. That means no matter who his Democratic opponent is, McCain will be fighting for the 2004 map, even after Democrats heading into this cycle had hopes of unlocking at least some of the 29 electoral votes those four states represent. Watch how much time both candidates spend in and west of the Rockies this summer and into the Fall.

-- Misperception Of The Day: In an editorial, the New York Times today says it is "past time" for Clinton to acknowledge the campaign's increasing negativity, "for which she is mostly responsible." The Clinton campaign should simply point out that Obama, too, has gone negative in recent days, and if the mainstream media is going to treat him as a harbinger of new-style politics, perhaps they ought to hold him to those standards. But others have complained that increasingly biting attacks are having a real impact on the race. "Voters are getting tired of it," the Times writes. Given that every contest so far, up to and including Pennsylvania, has seen record turnout, voters clearly aren't getting tired of it.. Think John McCain isn't going to hit Obama hard? Think again. This is politics.

-- Today On The Trail: McCain is in Inez, Kentucky, where he will hold a town hall meeting and host a media availability. Clinton is in Indianapolis for a rally, and Obama heads to New Albany, where he will hold his own town hall meeting.