Saturday, February 23, 2008

Reality Bites

It appears that the reality of their situation is beginning to set in to the Clinton camp. The Washington Post has an article this morning that confirms that some of her aides are seeing the writing on the wall. If it is true that they do see the writing on the wall, I would expect that she will lighten up a little it. There would be no sense in harming the eventual party nominee. The Post has the following passages that explain the mood of the campaign:

Inside Clinton's inner circle on Friday, the feeling was that the Thursday night debate in Austin was unlikely to slow Obama's momentum from 11 straight primary and caucus victories. Some supporters said they had discussed how to raise with Clinton the subject of withdrawing from the race should she fail to win decisively on March 4. One option was to wait a day or two and then dispatch emissaries to former president Clinton to urge him to make the case.

One adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak freely, said Obama's 17-point Wisconsin victory on Tuesday had started to sink in as a decisive blow, given that the state had been viewed weeks earlier as a level playing field.

"The mathematical reality at that point became impossible to ignore," the adviser said. "There's not a lot of denial left at this point."

Despite Clinton's public pronouncements of optimism, this adviser said: "She knows where things are going. It's pretty clear she has a big decision. But it's daunting. It's still hard to accept."

There will be a lot of discussion about what went wrong after the ship finally sinks but probably the biggest reasons I see for her failures to this point are:
Lack of a consistent message. "Ready from day one", "Solutions not Speeches" never resonated with anyone other than her over paid consultants. Which brings us to the next one.

Budgeting. The amount of money this campaign has wasted is unbelievable, but the writing should have been on the wall if you look at her Senate Campaign expeditures . Her Campaign spent $41 mil out of the $51mil raised to beat John "bleeping" Spencer (no relation to Jon "bleeping" Koncak). Had she spent only $15 mil she would have had an extra $25 million to transfer to her Presidential campaign. How much of a difference that would have made remains to be seen, because as Patrick Ewing once said "we make a lot of money but we spend a lot of money". The NYTimes has an interesting piece today about how all of the small vendors are struggling to get paid by the Clinton campaign. Embarrassing.

Organization: Had her campaign used some of the extra $25 mil they could have had on a ground operation in caucus states or planned beyond Super Tuesday.

Going Negative: Part of Obama's strength is that he stays above really personal aspect of campaigning making it harder to do it back to him. Every time Hillary went negative, it came back to haunt her. That includes when Bill went on the attack for her. Hillary was at her best when she was trying to be engaging and personable, when she got ugly with Barack (and Bill too) it reflected badly on her. She should have stayed completely on message and let her surrogates draw the contrasts.

If they truly believe that it is over, the best thing they can do from here is go out with style and class and make the remaining days left in the campaign positive days. She could then return to being a power broker in the Senate.

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