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« Tip Of Obama Iceberg? | Blog Home Page | Lowering The MS Boom »

Strategy Memo: Weight Of The World

Good Thursday morning. The Washington Wizards actually won a playoff game last night, recalling the old joke, back when they were called the Washington Bullets, that they would change their name to stop their association with crime. From thenceforth, they would be known only as the Bullets. Here's what that city of crime is watching today:

-- The Senate is still working on the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, while the House takes up several smaller bills today. President Bush plans remarks at the National Day of Prayer before attending a celebration of Asian Pacific Islander American hertiage. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters will participate in a news conference and demonstration on responsible motorcycle riding, which we can only hope means she gets on a hog herself.

-- Out on the campaign trail, this cycle, perhaps more so than any other, has been about people other than the candidates. Each candidate has been plagued by their supporters' dumb statements, be they a state Republican Party or radio host, making life difficult for John McCain by making his party look vaguely racist, or an economic adviser who tells an interested party that his candidate is only playing politics, making Barack Obama's campaign miserable for a few days, or loud-mouthed surrogates who just can't help bring up drugs, electability and Jesse Jackson, raising the specter that perhaps Hillary Clinton's team, too, is populated by racists. Every campaign has their one chief problem -- in these three cases, all chief supporters -- and November's election may come down to which albatross is the lightest.

-- For Barack Obama, the albatross of Jeremiah Wright looks like it's slowly receding. After his press conference on Tuesday, Obama's Wednesday was filled with three super delegate endorsements, and he will win a few more today. A public spat with a minister could even be a good thing for Obama, in the meta sense, who has been plagued by rumors that he's some kind of plant. But Wright is likely to hang around as an issue, as underhanded organizations and backers of his rivals use him to their advantage to suggest that Obama is somehow out of the mainstream. And Wright doesn't look like he's willing to help anymore, as the New York Times writes, blaming Obama strategist David Axelrod, and by extension the campaign as a whole, for his troubles.

-- Hillary Clinton has had to deal with a chief surrogate who has clearly not lived up to expectations. Bill Clinton was supposed to be the best political operator in the Democratic Party, the answer to the GOP's Karl Rove, and early in the race the Clinton team worried that the husband would outshine the wife with his soaring rhetoric. A year later, Bill Clinton has proven to be nothing but a burden, having effectively destroyed any good will African American voters had for his wife and relegated to the D list of small towns (stops today include Whiting, Schererville and Crown Point, Indiana) with media markets too small for the candidate herself. At the beginning, the question was how much Bill would hurt Hillary by overshadowing her with his charisma. Now, it's how much he's hurt her by overshadowing her with his blunders.

-- John McCain's albatross isn't going anywhere. President Bush's job approval rating is in the dumps, hovering in the low 30s in the RCP Average for the past several years. McCain likely won't put Bush on the trail, except to fundraise, and while the presidential contest may push him into the wings more, he still resides in the White House, meaning he has a platform on which to make news unlike Wright or Bill Clinton possess. And despite McCain's distance from the administration, lingering from the 2000 race and breaks on torture, climate change and other issues, 43% of registered voters still worry he's too closely associated with the president, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows. McCain, as it turns out, may have to deal with the biggest burden of all. In fact, it's something of a miracle he's anywhere near tied in the White House contest as of now.

-- Obama's going to get more good news today, at the expense of rival Clinton, when an Indianapolis lawyer endorses his candidacy. That lawyer, Joe Andrew, had once contemplated a run for governor of the Hoosier State, which makes him known to local Democrats in advance of next week's primary, but perhaps more importantly, he also chaired the Democratic National Committee when Bill Clinton was in the White House. Until now, Andrew had been on Hillary Clinton's side, but he's changing his tune, and his super delegate vote, in order to unify the party, as he casts it, per the Associated Press. Andrew is the fourth super delegate to endorse in the last twenty-four hours, and he won't be the last. As we wrote yesterday, this almost has a feeling of finality about it, as if the end is just around the corner.

-- Some of the most honest talk on the campaign trail has come from Clinton surrogates explaining why their candidate is the better choice to take on McCain in November. Whatever aspect it may be, from the most offensive made up tales, as emails making the rounds for a year and more have contained, to the most innocuous anecdotes of high school and college experimentation, Republicans will attack Barack Obama in the Fall. Forgive Billy Shaheen and Mark Penn for bringing it up, they're not saying anything Republicans won't agree with. And forgive Ed Rendell, but there are, in fact, still people who will not vote for an African American candidate. Today, it's Evan Bayh's turn, as he says during an interview with the Washington Post that Obama's association with Wright will get November play . Though by this time, given that he's merely pointing to GOP statements, Bayh probably won't get in trouble.

-- Super Dude Of The Day: Heyyyyy! The Fonz says he thinks Obama is the guy to back, per an interview published in L.A. City Beat. How is it, though, that one of the coolest people in the world doesn't have a super delegate vote? The California Democratic Party has a few add-on slots open, and party chair Art Torres could do worse than adding Henry WInkler to their roster in Denver. Want to be fair to the Clinton campaign and make sure someone equally cool gets in on her behalf? Call on New York Democrats to give Quincy Jones, a Clinton backer, a ticket to the convention as well.

-- Today On The Trail: Obama will meet with seniors in Columbia City before heading to a town hall meeting in Middlebury and a rally in Lakeport, Indiana. Clinton's in the same state, with rallies in Indianapolis and Terre Haute followed by a town hall meeting in Jeffersonville. John McCain is in neighboring Ohio for a town hall meeting and media availability in Cleveland before hopping over to Iowa, where he may have a seriously tough job convincing voters that he didn't really mean to insult them by skipping their caucuses. He'll start that long, slow road to recovery with a town hall meeting in Des Moines.