As for the Democrats, CBS' Jim Axelrod (no link) picked up on a mood of "substantial worry" at the Rodham Clinton campaign in the face of Obama's surge in the polls. NBC's Andrea Mitchell marveled at the speed of the change: "Only a month ago, in New Hampshire, Clinton predicted the race would be over tonight" yet now her camp is predicting "that the fight for the Democratic nomination will go all the way to the Convention." ABC's David Muir (no link) illustrated just how grueling the campaign has become with a clip of Rodham Clinton's uncontrolable coughing jag that ended one satellite television interview.
The Obama campaign responded by playing the expectations game. "He had good poll numbers in New Hampshire and lost," reflected CBS' Dean Reynolds (no link). Yet both Reynolds and NBC's Lee Cowan could not help but marvel at the strides Obama had made. "Since the early days of his campaign the candidate has morphed from the intellectual to the inspirational," Cowan recalled. Reynolds recapped Obama's recent 15-state swing: "He has relied heavily on his undeniable oratorical power to inspire, to touch, and to move those who see him in person."
So how to handicap the Democratic race? Women, it was agreed, will be key. If Rodham Clinton performs well, "it will be because women came through for her again as they did in New Hampshire," NBC's Mitchell predicted. ABC's George Stephanopoulos called women her "last line of defense." CBS' Axelrod pointed to her televised town hall meeting on the Hallmark Channel "a network for women aged 18 to 49. The hope is to stop the exodus of women to Obama."
Concerning that exodus, NBC's Mitchell got carried away when she told us that "many younger women like Maria Shriver say they switched to Obama after listening to their daughters." No offense to the former First Niece, anchor of NBC's Dateline and First Lady of California. Maria is many things but a "younger woman" she is not.
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