JOE SUPER DELEGATE: Illustration by ALEX FINE
BLOOMBERG: Barack Obama has pulled almost even with Hillary Clinton in endorsements from top elected officials and has cut into her lead among the other superdelegates she’s relying on to win the Democratic presidential nomination. Among the 313 of 796 superdelegates who are members of Congress or governors, Clinton has commitments from 103 and Obama is backed by 96, according to lists supplied by the campaigns. Fifty-three of Obama’s endorsements have come since he won the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, compared with 12 who have aligned with Clinton since then.
“That’s not glacial, that is a remarkable momentum,” Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a superdelegate and Obama supporter, said in an interview. “I don’t think there is anything that will slow that down.” Democratic elected officials have the most at stake in the nomination because the candidate at the top of the ticket in November will have an impact on state and local races.
In the overall race for superdelegates — elected and party officials who automatically receive votes at the Democratic National Convention that will choose the nominee — Clinton leads Obama in commitments by 249 to 212, according to an Associated Press tally. The trend, though, is running against the New York senator. Since March 5, the day after she won primaries in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Obama took Vermont, the Illinois senator has won backing from nine superdelegates and Clinton one, according to the campaigns and interviews. MORE
MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS: “First and foremost, I am struggling every day to try to keep it together.” This was Michelle Obama, current embodiment of “put together” woman, chatting with a group of suburban moms in an Episcopal church in a well-heeled Philadelphia suburb on Thursday, part of a daylong swing across southeastern Pennsylvania in advance of the the state’s all-important April 22 primary. Around her sat five women, all working moms of preschoolers, all with fresh hairdos and nice handbags and, it must be said, all white — though not all Democrats. Their children’s class had just been treated to a reading of Dr. Seuss by Mrs. Obama, who then came upstairs for a little girl talk.
Obama framed these challenges around her own struggle as a “hundred-and-ten percent-er,” part of a generation of women raised to believe they could “have it all” but never actually told what that means or most importantly, how to achieve it. “As a hundred and ten percent-er, I always feel like I’m failing,” Obama said. She sees herself as part of a “a generation of women plagued with guilt, dealing with the guilt of that failure and what kind of psychological effect is that having?” It’s becoming a familiar refrain lately — Tina Fey recently described the life of a working parent as “constantly saying, ‘This is impossible,’ and then you just keep doing it.”
Through it all, I couldn’t help thinking about Abigail Adams, and what America’s second First Lady might have taken away from the conversation. Michelle Obama’s “keeping it together” comment reminded me a lot of something similar I’d heard earlier in the week from Mrs. Adams. OK, it was actress Laura Linney playing Abigail Adams in HBO miniseries John Adams, which premieres Sunday.
There’s a part in the series’ second episode, during the hard months leading up to the Declaration of Independence, in which Abigail is seen struggling to keep the family’s Massachusetts farm running, to raise a passel of kids (including a future president) and to keep “the pox” at bay. Meanwhile, her husband is off in Philadelphia doing the “man’s work” of politics. Yet Abigail wonders: when she opens the kitchen pantry to find it empty, isn’t that politics? When half-dead soldiers show up at her door looking for food or water, isn’t that politics? When her children huddle in her bed at night, frightened by the sound of British Navy cannons firing on Boston, isn’t that politics? Her words stuck with me with all week, as political women from Geraldine Ferraro to Silda Spitzer made their way across the front pages.
Adams’ point, of course, wasn’t just “Remember the ladies.” It was that not only are all politics local, they are personal, a kind of trickle-down socioeconomics in which the decisions made and actions taken (or untaken) by politicians far away resound in the homes of every American like the cannons fire in the distance. In her own very modern, and very put together way, I think Michelle Obama and was saying the same thing. MORE
INQUIRER: Libertarians prize individual rights, say party leaders. But really, the emphasis on “individual” ends there. They’re tired of being alone. They’d love to make more converts. In fact, Libertarians are aggressively pursuing voters in the region, seeking to raise the profile of their party’s presidential candidates. (There’s at least 8.) This weekend in Malvern, Libertarians from Pennsylvania and New Jersey will hold a joint convention scheduled to run three days at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center. “Everyone’s invited,” said James C. Babb, a small Main Line businessman and organizer of the weekend gathering, which begins tomorrow. “Saturday is the best day for someone who is not already a party member.” The confab will give regional Libertarians an opportunity to size up eight presidential candidates before the party’s May 22 national convention in Denver, Colorado. About 200 delegates are expected to attend the Malvern event.
Babb said he’s routinely asked why the Libertarians even bother to run a presidential candidate. “People say, ‘Gosh, you’re never going to win. Isn’t it a wasted vote?’ “But voters are really disappointed with the Democrats and the Republicans right now,” Babb said. “This is an opportunity to make a statement.” The Libertarian party platform, Babb said, reflects the values of the Founding Fathers. Babb said the party stands for a humble foreign policy, a sound currency, protection of individual rights, the elimination of taxes, an end to the war on drugs, no torture and no wiretapping. He said the Republican Party had used bait-and-switch tactics to win the White House for the past eight years. “They promised no nation building and invaded Iraq. They promised fiscal conservatism and they brought us a $3.1 trillion budget. And that’s just one year’s worth of squandering.” Democrats, he said, haven’t done much better. “They swept the House of Representatives promising to get us out of Iraq, but they’ve continued to fund the war and they’ve failed to protect civil liberties.” LOCAL ANGLE: Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Jackson (pictured left), 68, born in Woodbury, NJ and a 1961 graduate of Lehigh University. An inventor and engineer now based in Michigan, Jackson operates import-export businesses Triax Inc. and Jackson International. MORE