COMMENTS: Where’s the Beef?

Most campaign coverage concentrated on the Democrats. Barack Obama beat Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Va-DC-Md Potomac primary on Tuesday night and is "expected" to win next Tuesday in Wisconsin and Hawaii, according to CBS' Dean Reynolds. That would make ten straight victories. Rodham Clinton's aides told Reynolds that the ten were "small contests anyway and that if she does well next month in Ohio and Texas she will be right back in the race." Reynolds added: "Left unsaid is what happens if she does not do well."

"I am in the solutions business. My opponent is in the promises business," was the Rodham Clinton soundbite that both CBS' Reynolds and ABC's Kate Snow (at the tail of the Wright videostream) selected. Snow called it "a sharper message," Reynolds found it "more energized." Responding to criticism that he "has more style than substance" on the stump, Obama "went on a substance offensive," according to ABC's David Wright. He laid out a $210bn program to develop renewable energy and to rebuild infrastructure with an explicit warning to his audience that his speech would be "a little more detailed. This is going to be a lot longer, not as many applause lines."

CBS' newscast was anchored by Harry Smith while Katie Couric went on the road to profile Michelle Obama, asking her whether it was true that her husband's "inspirational message" lacked substance: "If you cannot do the inspiration then, you know, you have to attack the guy that can do both," the would-be First Lady argued.

Obama's aides told NBC's David Gregory that he now has a big enough lead in the delegate count that Rodham Clinton cannot catch up. NBC had him ahead by 109 (1078 v 969), CBS by 66 (1251 v 1185), ABC by 51 (1273 v 1222). ABC's Jake Tapper conceded that Rodham Clinton might not clinch before the convention but he argued that Obama might not either, thus making superdelegates decisive. The last time that happened, Tapper reminded us, was in 1984, when Gary Hart reeled off wins eleven of the final twelve primaries, but could not defeat Walter Mondale "largely because of superdelegates, who committed to Mondale before the process even began."


Further to 1984, at the time the Democratic superdelegates gave Mondale the nomination, he was polling behind Reagan by 17%, while Hart was only 4% behind Reagan. Obviosuly, the supers did not decide on the basis of electability. Let's hope they don't make a similarly stupid mistake this time.

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