Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Obama May Not Have Fully Contained Damage From Ex-Pastor

Maybe, maybe not.

"It has not been defused," says David Parker, a North Carolina Democratic Party official and unpledged superdelegate. He says his worries about Republicans questioning Sen. Obama's patriotism prompted him to raise the issue of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.'s remarks in conversations with both the Obama and Clinton campaigns. "I'm concerned about seeing Willie Horton ads during the general election," Mr. Parker says...

A legitimate concern. Doubtlessly, the Republicans will attack Rev. Wright and do Willie Horton ads. Curious choice of words by Mr. Parker: Willie Horton was a scary black figure meant to play on voters's racist fears.

National polls show the Illinois senator hasn't suffered among Democratic primary voters.

Nationally he's fine. But the Clinton spin machine will work to change that.

Sen. Hillary Clinton has argued that she can better withstand Republican attacks. One of her senior advisers last week told the Talking Points Memo blog that he had raised the Wright issue with superdelegates. The campaign didn't dispute the report. "[C]ertainly, as you recall, it was very heavily in the news and people, you know, sometimes have it on their minds," Sen. Clinton told reporters last week.

Sometimes. She'll make sure of that. But her spin can be countered.

The Obama campaign says the concerns are overblown and the party will rally around Sen. Obama if he wins the nomination, in part because Sen. Clinton will campaign for him. "Anybody who's intractably opposed to us now, they probably were never going to vote for us in the first place," says Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. The campaign has also contended that it can put into play traditionally Republican states like Colorado and Virginia, states Sen. Obama carried in the primaries with broad demographic support, and that it has a proven record of boosting turnout with new voters.

Nice twist.

"Rev. Wright is one of the main vulnerabilities the Clinton campaign can point to," says Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. "But superdelegates are not going to look kindly on them trying to exploit this."

And here is a fascinating comment by a superdelegate.

The Wright question is a nonissue for Chris Redfern, an undecided superdelegate and the chair of the Ohio Democratic Party. He says it shouldn't be a part of discussions. "It presupposes the notion that superdelegates can't think for themselves," he says.

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