Clinton and Obama's Philly Fortnight
11-15-2007
It has been two weeks since Hillary Clinton was roasted at the Democratic presidential debate in Philadelphia. The lively exchange over driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants tested the limits of Clinton’s general election strategy, and provided the first sign of cracks in her campaign’s façade of inevitability. Yet, even with several additional (admittedly entertaining) missteps since the debate, including complaints about inadequate tipping and accusations of question planting, Clinton continues to enjoy solid frontrunner status.
 
In contrast, Barack Obama has had a pretty good two weeks in the wake of the Philadelphia debate, receiving excellent reviews for his Jefferson-Jackson speech in Iowa, but mixed notices for his appearance on Meet the Press. A consensus has also gradually emerged among political observers that Obama has benefited by not attacking Clinton as aggressively as John Edwards.  It is taking me some time to come around to this line of argument, given my earlier thoughts on the subject.  I am still not there yet, but I am listening.
 
Having watched these past two weeks closely, my sense is that Obama’s best hope for closing the gap with Clinton rests in all of the polling data showing that support for Clinton is still quite fluid. The question now is whether and how Obama will turn up the heat on Clinton at tonight’s Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, in order to get some of that fluid support to flow his way.


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