Monday, June 2, 2008

Democratic Party May Not be Choosing Its Strongest Candidate

Photo credits: Doug Mills/NY Times

Paul Harris, writing in Sunday’s Observer (Guardian-UK) before Clinton had swept Puerto Rico, effectively nails the dilemma the Democrats – especially the superdelegates - are facing as the primary winds down:

“With senator Barack Obama poised this week to clinch his party's nomination for President, there are growing fears in some quarters that the Democratic party may not be choosing its strongest candidate to beat Republican John McCain.

"Senator Hillary Clinton has been making that argument for weeks. Now some recent polls and analysis, looking particularly at vital battleground states and support among white voters, have bolstered her case - even as Obama looks certain to become the nominee.

‘“Obama supporters reject this argument and point to his record of boosting Democratic voter turnout, especially among the young. But sceptics in the party, already nervous about nominating Obama after the furore over outspoken pastor Jeremiah Wright, are growing increasingly concerned. 'There is an element of buyer's remorse in some areas. The question is whether it gets really strong now or in September - or even after the election is over, if he loses,' said Steve Mitchell, head of political consultancy Mitchell Research.”

Harris notes the latest firestorm erupting from Obama’s Chicago church:

“Another boost to Clinton's case came late last week after a pro-Obama preacher gave a race-tinged rant against her at Obama's church in Chicago. In a recent sermon Michael Pfleger - a long-term Obama backer who is white - mocked Clinton as an entitled white person angry at a black man having beaten her. His angry, red-faced speech, in which he mimicked Clinton weeping, was played repeatedly across American cable channels and the internet.

“The news sent shock waves through Democratic circles; many had hoped Obama had put 'pastor problems' behind him. 'It is more of the same problem as Wright. It reinforces the image among some voters that Obama does not share their values,' said Mitchell.”

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Hillary defeated Obama in Puerto Rico 2 to 1, trouncing him in every category, including key components of his base: younger people, the college-educated, and those boasting higher incomes.

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