Obama base + Clinton base = Democrat in the White House — More from Indiana
Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Tue, 05/06/2008 – 10:06am
pictures all taken by me from Hillary Clinton’s May 4 speech in South Bend.
South Bend, IN — This is for the Barack Obama supporters among our readership. The good news: your candidate is going to be the nominee for the Democratic Party for president of the United States. The bad news: Hillary Clinton has a base that your candidate needs in order to win in November.
I drove around a lot in Indiana during my brief stay in the Hoosier state. I saw Bill Clinton give a terrific speech in Plymouth, so great that you wanted to vote for him. I saw Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano speak in really good terms on how to sell Obama to skeptical voters. And then I saw Hillary Clinton along with Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) in a rally in South Bend.
Clinton spoke for 21 minutes outside her campaign headquarters on Jefferson Blvd. just outside the main downtown area in South Bend. But in those 21 minutes, she was really on her game.
You almost wonder — when you hear her speak – where this candidate was in January. Where was this candidate during Obama’s 11 wins in a row?
But there is a reason why you hear this now. Clinton was doing well in Indiana for the same reason she won Ohio and Pennsylvania, and likely would still win Michigan in a rematch – this is her base.
Clinton was comfortable in this setting. She noted that between Chelsea, Bill, and herself that they have made 95 stops. She warmed up the crowd by focusing on the young girls in the audience, noting that “no matter what happens” that “you can grow up to be president of the United States.” And she also played up how it has been 40 years since Indiana played a major role. If her demographics swing older, they will remember Robert F. Kennedy and the ’68 race in Indiana.
Then she dived into the meat of the presentation. She talked about “the great sigh of relief when the moving van pulls out” from the White House. Clinton focused on her 4-point plan on gas prices, $10,000 tax credit for those to buy hybrids.
She played up the fighter element she has discovered, pointing out that talking isn’t enough. She slipped into this sardonic voice about how magically people will change their mind once they hear words – she never said the word “Obama” but everyone knew who she meant.
She talked about how some are paying 20%, 25%, and even 30% interest on student loans. She talked about ending No Child Left Behind. These points drew enthusiastic applause.
Clinton will likely win Indiana today because of the many in this state who can relate to her. Most of these voters can be swayed to voting for Obama in November, but Obama supporters: you have your work cut out for you.
The good news for you is that you have most of the Democrats in hand. You have those who have been behind your candidate, and you can – without too much trouble – get those who are on the fence between Obama and Clinton.
But there are fervent Hillary Clinton supporters who can easily drift to John McCain. These are people who likely would have stayed home if Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee were at the top of the Republican ticket. They will vote in November, and they feel their choices are Obama or McCain.
Could naming a woman as the VP pick placate some of these voters? Perhaps — if getting a female in the Executive Branch is what is important. But do not underestimate those who support Hillary because she is Hillary. Napolitano did get the question about whether she would accept the VP nomination if selected. She steered away from the question, but clearly Napolitano and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius are on a theoretical short list. For those who back Hillary because she is Hillary, picking a female could have a backlash.
But the best way to go about it is study how Clinton appeals to voters on economic issues, on fighting for justice, gas prices, and health care – and use that to your advantage. Obama supporters: your base will not be enough to win in November. You need these rust-belt states where Clinton is at home. Win them over and you will cruise in November. If you don’t, we’ll have another nail-biter.