Sunday, February 10, 2008

Who's the Toughest, Baddest on the Block?

Clinton vs. Obama, Huck Holds On

Senator Barack Obama cemented his weekend sweep of primary and caucuses with a victory over Senator Hillary Clinton in Maine Sunday evening. It's estimated Obama wins the delegate breakdown 15 to 9. It's Obama's fifth straight win, and the string sends him into Tuesday's Potomac primaries with a fresh burst of momentum. To top it all off, Obama took home a Grammy Sunday night -- for his audio version of his book, "The Audacity of Hope." It's notable he defeated former President Bill Clinton for the honor. While Obama was racking up wins, Clinton was swapping out campaign managers.

They both appeared on 60 Minutes Sunday:

"Whoever wins this Democratic primary, they're the toughest, baddest candidate on the block."
"The longer we're in this race, the stronger we get."
"There are a lot of people out there who say, I'm trying to figure out who to vote for McCain or Obama. There aren't that many who are saying I'm trying to figure out who to vote for Clinton or McCain."

"You have to believe you're going to win, otherwise leave the field,"
"I think the media has certainly been very, shall we say, tough on me,"
"Until you have been through this experience, you have no idea what it's like. And he hasn't been. He's never, ever had to face this."
"Unity for the sake of unity, is not my goal."

February looks like a good month for Obama. Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. vote on Tuesday, and polls (dare we cite them?) look good for Obama.

Barack Obama 53%
Hillary Clinton 37%

Mason Dixon/Feb. 7-8/400 likely voters
Barack Obama 53%
Hillary Clinton 35%
Mason Dixon/Feb. 7-8/400 likely voters

The Clinton team seems to be staking everything on primaries in Texas (large Hispanic vote) and Ohio (labor, institutional support) in March. But if Obama is able to continue his winning streak, will he be able to be stopped in these bigger states where he'll have the momentum and emotion? The delegate counts remain all over the board -- too confusing to detail here. But CBS News is giving Obama the edge in overall delegates (including uncommitted superdelegates) -- 1,134 to 1,131. Statistically insignificant, but there you have it. By the way, would there be any better vice-presidential pick for Obama than Virginia Senator Jim Webb. Tough, brings military gravitas, from swingy-state Virginia. But first, both are courting John Edwards for his endorsement. Seems to me Obama would have to be favored at actually getting it.

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee put together wins in Louisiana and Kansas this weekend to challenge the conventional wisdom that the race is over. Huckabee says he'll stay in until John McCain receives the amount of delegates he needs to clinch, but is this endangering Huckabee's chance of getting on McCain's ticket or bolstering it? Possibly adding salt to the wound, Huckabee's campaign is challenging the result in Washington, contending that the race was called for McCain before all the votes were counted.

McCain looks solid in Maryland and Virginia on Tuesday. He holds a 31-point lead over Huckabee in Maryland and a 28-point lead over Huckabee in Virginia, according to Mason-Dixon. Huckabee probably has a better shot at taking Virginia than Maryland, so look to the commonwealth to see if Huckabee can surprise again and make a stand.

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