Obama’s Binge Drinking Strategy Surprisingly Effective

NEW YORK TIMES: Senator Barack Obama captured a decisive victory in the Democratic presidential primary in North Carolina on Tuesday. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s loss combined with a tight race in Indiana, where the counting was continuing deep into the night, did nothing to improve her chances of securing the Democratic presidential nomination. If anything, Mrs. Clinton’s options for overtaking Senator Barack Obama may have dwindled further. For Mr. Obama, the outcome came after a brutal period in which he was on the defensive over the inflammatory comments of his former pastor. That he was able, at a minimum, to hold his own under those circumstances should allow him to make a case that he has proved his resilience in the face of questions about race, values and patriotism — the very kinds of issues that the Clinton campaign has suggested would leave him vulnerable in the general election.

cintondrinking.jpgIn the last several weeks, Mrs. Clinton, seizing on the campaign’s new focus on the weakening economy, seemed to find new energy and a more populist voice. She ran hard on a proposal to temporarily eliminate the federal gasoline tax, an idea that Mr. Obama scorned. Yet she was unable to build her base of support substantially beyond the white, working-class voters who had sustained her for the last month — and that will not be lost on the superdelegates, the elected Democrats and party leaders who will ultimately decide this fight.And the superdelegates are now where the fight is moving: after 50 nominating contests, there are only 6 left, with just 217 pledged delegates left to be elected, not enough to get either of them over the 2,025 threshold necessary to win the nomination. MORE

THE CAUCUS: This was one of Mr. Obama’s better speeches. He was gracious toward Mrs. Clinton, promising to unite the party and the country, in a more or less open bid for her supporters and to pave the way for her eventual withdrawal. Alas, our colleague John Broder, who is at the Clinton party in Indianapolis, tells us that as Mr. Obama appeared on screen, many in the Clinton crowd booed. And then the Clinton camp cranked up the music to drown out Mr. Obama’s speech. So perhaps his message didn’t get through. MORE

THE POLITICO: Clinton aide Howard Wolfson details Clinton’s new loans to the campaign, which theobama_street.jpg campaign has kept secret for almost a month. Clinton made a $5 million loan on April 11, a $1 million loan May 1, and $425,000 May 5. The campaign touted its Internet fundraising last month, while rebuffing inquiries about loans from the candidate. Today, Wolfson said he hadn’t had time to check on the online fundraising.

TIM RUSSERT: “We now know who the Democratic nominee is going to be – and no one’s going to dispute it, Keith. Sometimes in campaigns, the candidate is the last to recognize the best timing. It’s very much like being on life support: Once they start removing the systems, you really have no choice. If, in fact, these reports of Senator Clinton giving her campaign more money are true, then the Clintons have a BIG decision to make in the morning: Do they go into further debt? … Their ability to raise money after the events of tonight – it’s going to be very difficult. As opposed to what happened after Pennsylvania, when money roared in, because people saw a realistic chance. That no longer exists. They know it, Obama knows it, and the voters … now know it, as well.” MORE

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