New Clinton spin: March 4 states must-wins for Obama

In a memo, Hillary Clinton's campaign tries out a strange new strategy, flipping the script on Tuesday's primaries.

Published February 29, 2008 4:48PM (EST)

Something strange just landed in my e-mail in box: A memo from Hillary Clinton's campaign titled "Obama Must-Wins." The memo attempts to paint the states that hold their nominating contests on March 4 -- Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont -- as must-wins for Barack Obama. That is, to put it in the most generous terms possible, a very bold attempt at spin. For weeks now, Ohio and Texas have been considered must-wins for Clinton.

There are good reasons for considering those states must-wins for Clinton, too. Obama has been on a roll since Super Tuesday -- she has to stop his momentum, and soon. More than that, she badly needs the delegates that Ohio and Texas bring to have a shot at capturing the nomination at the Democratic convention later this year, if the race gets that far. And considering the drooling anticipation with which some in the media are waiting for a final defeat for Clinton, the pile-on if she fails to capture either or both of those states will be hard to recover from.

Moreover, it's not as if the Clinton campaign has pretended to be unaware of the situation it faces. Earlier this month, former President Bill Clinton told an audience in Texas, "If she wins Texas and Ohio I think she will be the nominee. If you don't deliver for her, I don't think she can be. It's all on you."

The full memo:

The media has anointed Barack Obama the presumptive nominee and he's playing the part.

With an eleven state winning streak coming out of February, Senator Obama is riding a surge of momentum that has enabled him to pour unprecedented resources into Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The Obama campaign and its allies are outspending us two to one in paid media and have sent more staff into the March 4 states. In fact, when all is totaled, Senator Obama and his allies have outspent Senator Clinton by a margin of $18.4 million to $9.2 million on advertising in the four states that are voting next Tuesday.

Senator Obama has campaigned hard in these states. He has spent time meeting editorial boards, courting endorsers, holding rallies, and -- of course -- making speeches.

If he cannot win all of these states with all this effort, there's a problem.

Should Senator Obama fail to score decisive victories with all of the resources and effort he is bringing to bear, the message will be clear:

Democrats, the majority of whom have favored Hillary in the primary contests held to date, have their doubts about Senator Obama and are having second thoughts about him as a prospective standard-bearer.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2008 Elections Hillary Rodham Clinton War Room