Mark Blumenthal | August 26, 2008
My second National Journal column for the week (which will appear in tomorrow's Convention Daily) will be posted within the next few hours. Since it is all about the opportunities presented by Hillary Clinton's speech tonight, I'll post a key block quote now and add the link later. Update: the full column is now live.
The gist is that I disagree with the "Hillary can't win," damned if she does, damned if she doesn't them of Marie Cocco's column in this morning's Washington Post (echoed to some extent by Todd, et. al. in FirstRead). I think the speech presents Clinton with a huge opportunity, both for her own long term interests and for the Obama-Biden ticket. I make the case with survey data in the column. While an Obama-Clinton ticket would have come with risks to offset benefits, the same cannot be said for tonight's speech. Quoting myself:
And the decision by the McCain campaign to release (if not air) three different television advertisements this week invoking Clinton's criticisms of Obama during the primaries provides her with a huge tactical opportunity to create one of the convention's most memorable moments.
"I'm Hillary Rodham Clinton, and I do not approve of that message," she told the New York state delegation yesterday. In her speech, she can do more. I am not a speechwriter, but the "truth hurts" tagline of the first of these spots seems like an obvious opening for a riff on the records of McCain and President Bush.
We'll see how it turns out.
PS: Nate Silver made a very similar point about the Clinton-quoting McCain ads earlier in the week:
I could see the ad being very effective. But it also tosses a big softball to Hillary Clinton, who will speak to a national audience on Tuesday. The risk to the Republicans can be summarized in five words: "Shame on You, John McCain". A finger-wagging, how-dare-you moment by either of the Clintons at the convention -- but especially Hillary -- could be both effective and therapeutic, especially when coupled with a reminder that McCain voted against measures like SCHIP (and voted to impeach her husband).
I prefer big "hanging curve ball," but I'll defer to the baseball guy.
PPS: I'm catching up on my RSS feed while listening to the speeches. This post yesterday from Marc Ambinder seems relevant to what Clinton can help accomplish (emphasis added):
They are, yes, Hillary supporters, but a certain type of Hillary supporters: mainly white voters without college degrees. Ron Brownstein has noted that in four polls taken before the convention, Obama sits at 38% with this group. These voters, as pollster Stan Greenberg's new data shows, have a panoply of concerns. Unquestionably, some are racist. But a majority of them worry about Obama's credentials, his liberal positions on national security issues, and whether he truly understands their economic insecurities.
It is much easier to convince these voters to vote for Obama when they see Obama as the antidote to the Bush presidency, and when they see McCain as a Bush Republican. SO -- you will hear and see speaker after speaker portray McCain as a Bush Republican. Polling shows that even when recalcitrant Democrats learn about Obama's middle class roots, they're still skeptical. It is MUCH harder to convince them to vote for Obama because they LIKE him. It is much easier to convince them to vote for Obama because they think McCain represents a continuation of President Bush's policies. (Obama's campaign has polling data suggesting that an unusually large number of pro-choice Democrats don't know that McCain is pro-life.)