Hillary’s attack pays off

THE Clinton game plan is predicated on a long battle – a war of attrition to ultimately wear down her rival Barack Obama.

Yesterday’s votes were all about momentum: ending the African-American senator’s string of huge victories, generating long-overdue wins and allowing her to fight on to the national convention in August in the hope that the Obama campaign might implode.

This breathing space would give Mrs Hillary Clinton time to pursue further her aggressive recovery strategy that involves nothing but hard-hitting attacks against Mr Obama.

Her surge in the last few days shows that “going negative” against Mr Obama worked, denying him a knockout blow.

Expect even more attempts to undermine his credibility on national security, trade and his relationship with Chicago real estate developer Tony Rezko, whose racketeering trial has begun.

The Clinton team believes that the longer the race, the more dangerous it becomes for Mr Obama, whose honeymoon with the media now seems to be over.

But the delegate maths still favours him. To catch up, Mrs Clinton will have to win big in all the remaining primaries.

This is unlikely, given that she faces a tough calendar similar to the one she confronted after tying with Mr Obama on Super Tuesday last month.

This time, the wait for another big primary is even longer: seven weeks, not four, until Pennsylvania, with its 158 delegates and blue-collar base, where Mrs Clinton holds a large but declining lead.

In between is a Wyoming caucus on Saturday, exactly the kind of red-state, rally-style contest where Mr Obama has a proven advantage. A week after tomorrow comes Mississippi, whose large African-American population looks to be in his pocket.

Barring a lethal gaffe or a blockbuster Clinton win in Pennsylvania, it is likely the Illinois Senator will still be ahead when the primary and caucus cycle ends, but without reaching the magic number of 2,025 to clinch the nomination.

It will force a bitter convention fight – a scenario that the Clinton campaign is working towards.

Mrs Clinton is banking on the super-delegates – elected party officials and leaders – who will ultimately call the shots.

The thinking in her camp is that the party establishment might still swing in favour of someone who has been in Democratic politics for more than 15 years.

So far, 238 superdelegates have publicly committed to backing Mrs Clinton and 194 have pledged their support to Mr Obama, according to figures on the CNN website.

A further 300 are still undecided and a number of them have a long and personal history with the Clinton clan.

Judgment Day for Mrs Clinton will be at the August party convention.

FIGHTING ON

“We’re going on, we’re going strong, and we’re going all the way. We’re just getting started.”
MRS HILLARY CLINTON, to roaring supporters

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