EAVESDROPPING: How Clinton’s Spin Doctors Do Brain Surgery On The Fourth Estate Over The Phone


GIVE ‘EM HECK, HILLARY: Clinton in Scranton, Monday, by VIC SUEDE

MEcropped2.jpgBY JONATHAN VALANIA So, I couldn’t get anyone on the line today for our Keystoned Cell Phone Poll — all four of the guys in Pennsylvania named John Doe must have day jobs or are still sleeping off last night, and likewise with the eight guys named Mike Hunt and the two Jane Does. Man, this polling is hard work! So instead, I sat in today on one of those Hillary campaign conference calls to reporters that you have no doubt read about or heard referenced by columnists or talking heads. That’s because these conference calls — wherein with Chief Strategist Mark Penn and communications director Howard Wolfson spout the latest pro-Hillary/anti-Obama talking points to deadline-addled reporters desperate for a new angle and a fresh soundbite — have a tremendous impact on the tenor of the campaign coverage and deserve the lion’s share of the blame for the horse-race handicapping mentality of most on-the-trail reportage. Today’s meme: Obama has turned his back on Pennsylvania. The Clinton campaign has seized on THIS memo from the Obama campaign as a sign that they have already conceded Pennsylvania to Hillary and are moving on.

First up, Mark Penn offered 50 ways to render every Obama advantage — in the popular vote, in earned delegatesmarkpenn-cartoon-large.jpg and in pledged super delegates — as somehow irrelevant, if not, in fact, a disadvantage in disguise. That “the road to 1600 Avenue runs right through Pennsylvania,” that you would have to go all the way back to 1948 to find a Democrat that took the White House without winning Pennsylvania, and if Obama doesn’t understand that, then he not only fails the Commander-and-Chief Test but he also fails the Keystone Test, etc. Then they brought on Gov. Ed Rendell and Mayor Nutter to underscore just how boneheaded and ill-advised they thought this screw-Pennsylvania-who-needs-it? attitude is.

Rendell said that back when he was head of the DNC he told Gore not to put up a fight and concede to Bush and the rest is history he used to kill time by sketching out maps of the US and trying to puzzle out how a Democrat could win the White phonepoller.jpgHouse without winning Pennsylvania and after an exhaustive vetting of EVERY electoral possibility known to man he came to the conclusion that “there are ZERO scenarios” that put a Democrat in the White House without winning Pennsylvania. And just to make sure that reporters got the point, he said he found this idea of Obama campaign giving up Pennsylvania without a fight to be “off-putting.” So, nice goin’ Obama, ‘America’s Mayor’ has been put off. Then Nutter took the floor and, well, completely ignored the city he now runs. He spoke about how much excitement about Hillary there was out in the suburbs (TRANSLATION: Philadelphia is a lost cause for Hillary, and lily-white suburbs are her only hope) and then added that “if anyone on my staff wrote a memo like that I’d fire him.”

So, you got all that? You can’t win the White House without winning Pennsylvania and the Obama campaign just can’t be bothered to even try and man, is that dumb. As a Pennsylvania voter pulling for Obama, this all sounds rather discouraging and deeply disappointing. But then, a reporteriedrendell.jpg from Pittsburgh got on the line and she said that in fact, the Obama people had opened offices weeks ago and the Hillary people just set up shop a couple of days ago. And likewise all the PA super delegates she talked have been courted by the Obama campaign for months and the Hillary people only started calling a few days ago. And it seems like the Obama campaign has already done a lot of the work that the Hillary campaign is just starting to do, so how can they say he is turning his back on PA when the facts on the ground prove otherwise? (In fact, Obama campaign spokesperson Leslie Miller told Phawker that the campaign will go from nine to twelve offices in Pennsylvania in the next 24 hours.)

Well, it just went downhill from there. The guy from Business Week wanted to know why they can’t just admit that Obama/Hillary ticket is much more unbeatable than a Hillary/Obama ticket. And then Ben Smith from The Politico wanted to know if the campaign was in fact “awash in filth” as Keith Olbermann suggested last night (“no, but just to be clear we like watching Keith Olbermann most every other night, just not last night”). And then Amy from the Wall Street Journal wanted to know why the Governor of Pennsylvania and the mayor of Philadelphia were so certain that Obama would lose Pennsylvania in the general election. And then they both backpedaled all over the carefully laid Obama-can’t-win-PA meme. “No, no, no,” tutted Rendell. “Nobody is saying that, absolutely not. We are certain that Obama would win PA in the fall. It’s just that we are much MORE certain that Hillary would win PA in the fall.”

UPDATE: The Obama Camp Responds, With Humor

RELATED: The Clinton campaign today announced that Hillary has accepted an invitation to participate in abarack_obamacropped1_3.jpg primetime debate hosted by ABC. The debate will be held in Philadelphia, PA in advance of the April 22nd Pennsylvania primary. The debate will be broadcast statewide and nationally.
RELATED: Today, Barack Obama accepted invitations to nationally televised debates with Senator Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia on April 16th and in North Carolina on April 19th.
The Pennsylvania debate will be hosted by ABC News and held in the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Wednesday, April 16.
Philadelphia Black Clergy Endorse, Duh, Obama
RELATED: US actor Ed Norton and his Class 5 Films are producing a documentary about Democrat Barack Obama’s historic bid for the White House, according to reports Wednesday in Hollywood.The feature film planned for release in 2009 will focus on the political campaign of the Illinois senator, who is locked in a bitter fight with former first lady Hillary Clinton to be their party’s nominee for president, industry daily Variety reported on its website. The as-yet-unnamed documentary’s co-directors Amy Rice and Alicia Sam have had their cameras rolling since an Obama trip to Africa in 2006, according to the report. He launched his presidential campaign shortly thereafter. It was Obama’s inspiring speech to the Democratic National Convention in 2004 that motivated Norton to do the film.

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