Obama's distractions give Hillary hope
Hillary Rodham Clinton has an unmistakable bounce in her step these days a sense of energy and optimism that somehow belies the daunting challenge she faces in wresting the Democratic presidential nomination from Barack Obama.
"I feel good. We're making progress every day," she told supporters Thursday in Kentucky, which holds its primary May 20. "Wish I could be here for the Derby. ... I hope everyone's going to place a little money on the filly," a reference perhaps to horse Eight Belles and herself.
Buoyed by her convincing win in Pennsylvania's primary April 22, Hillary Clinton has been campaigning intensively before Indiana and North Carolina's contests next week. She's greeted by large crowds who respond enthusiastically to her plans for improving the faltering economy, and several polls out this week suggest she would be the stronger candidate to face Republican John McCain this fall, both nationally and in important swing states.
Obama, meanwhile, is still contending with the fallout from the controversy surrounding his former pastor and polls showing a tight contest in Indiana, where he once led.
While Obama has won several superdelegate endorsements this week, including that of former DNC chairman and one-time Clinton backer Joe Andrew, the former first lady has secured a few of her own after weeks of superdelegate drought. On Tuesday, she got a boost in North Carolina with the endorsement of Democratic Gov. Mike Easley, another superdelegate.
All of which has given her advisers at least a glimmer of hope that, after a long period of being thought a sure loser, Clinton has regained enough momentum to persuade uncommitted superdelegates to give her candidacy another look. While it may still be a long shot, advisers believe she is in a stronger position to make that argument now than she has been for much of the primary season.
"There is a settled view among Democrats and in the general electorate that Senator Hillary Clinton is the better candidate to have knowledge and leadership to turn the economy around," Clinton strategist Geoff Garin said, noting what he called the former first lady's "continued success and Senator Obama's continued difficulty connecting with blue-collar and middle-income voters, both men and women."
Indeed, Clinton advisers say conversations with uncommitted superdelegates suggest they are concerned about Obama's persistent weakness among some key demographic groups, particularly Catholic and Hispanic voters. In nominating contests so far this year, Clinton has bested Obama among both groups by a margin of 60 percent to 36 percent.