Obama Takes on the Elephant in the Room -- John McCain


For the better part of the last two weeks, the burgeoning consensus in the political world was that Barack Obama has become the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination. The race would continue, but the competition was over — Hillary Clinton couldn’t narrow the gap, and would trail Obama in delegates, popular votes, and states. In one widely read piece, Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen wrote as if they’d stumbled upon a secret: “One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.”



The funny thing was, Obama seemed largely oblivious to all of this. He was moving forward as if his primary fight was foremost on his mind, and his campaign continued to target Clinton as it had for months. It reinforced the notion that maybe the conventional wisdom was wrong — Obama certainly wasn’t acting like he’d wrapped this thing up. If the race for the nomination is over, shouldn’t Obama be ignoring Clinton?

He wasn’t. That is, until this week.
Sen. Barack Obama is talking about the elephant in the room — Republican rival John McCain — and all but ignoring the Democratic donkey who stands between him and his party’s presidential nomination.
Even though Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was campaigning down the Northeast Extension in Philadelphia, Obama criticized the likely Republican nominee’s policies on the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, trade and tax cuts. In his town-hll session Tuesday, and in other campaign appearances in recent days, Obama has sought to frame the race as a general election matchup between him and McCain.

I’m really surprised he hasn’t thought to do this sooner.

The more Obama quarreled with Clinton, the more we were led to believe the Democratic race was very much up for grabs. For the Clinton campaign, that’s the ideal — Clinton and her team need everyone to believe that anything can happen, and criticisms from Obama keep her in the game.

Why, then, has Obama been playing by his rival’s rules? By pivoting to McCain, Obama starts to put his campaign in a pseudo general-election mode, which is where he’s presumably wanted to be for weeks.

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