My take on Obama’s new strategy: It’s one-on-one now

I have a slightly different take on Obama’s speech today than John. First, today, with Edwards dropping out, the campaign is on a completely different playing field. It’s one-on-one between Obama and Clinton. For political geeks, it doesn’t get much better than this current contest. We are watching two masters of the game engage.

Two things are interesting to me: First, Obama keeps injecting Bill Clinton into the discussion. He did that again today in Denver. Last week, after the South Carolina debate, the punditry were discussing how Hillary was playing for February 5th while Obama was trying to win South Carolina. But, Obama kept making a point of discussing both Clintons, not just Hillary. The media kept wondering if Bill got under Obama’s skin. I wonder if it wasn’t really the other way around. Obama drew Bill into the campaign — and Bill acted like Bill does. Only problem is that Bill isn’t the candidate. Makes one wonder if the Obama campaign had research showing that the more Bill is the issue, the less support there is for Hillary. She loses the patina of a historic candidacy when the campaign isn’t about her. Obama did get the Clinton campaign off its message. Today, she even had to tell us “This is my campaign, it is about my candidacy.” (Anyone else hear “I’m relevant”?) That’s not something a campaign should be telling us six days before Super Tuesday.

More after the jump…

Second, Obama is using Hillary’s language — the very language she used against him. He kept talking about “Day One.” That was a trademark term of Hillary’s stump speech. Obama has turned it on her, which is actually somewhat masterful. That makes it hard for the Clinton team to start whining about what Obama is saying. He is re-defining one of Clinton’s main talking points. He also talked about Clinton’s votes on Iraq and Iran — and some of the statements she’s made during the campaign. But that’s fair game according to Clinton. At the South Carolina debate, Clinton said, “I believe your record and what you say should matter.” So, it matters.

I don’t see what Obama did as all that negative. To me, he went on the offense — trying to throw the Clinton campaign off their game. We keep hearing that Obama needs to show Democrats that he can play to win, that he can take on the Republican machine in the general election. I think that’s what he’s showing us. I really don’t see it as negative and mean or “blistering.” I mean come on, if Barack wanted to get ugly about the 90s, there is plenty to throw out there. But that’s not what the Obama did. (And let’s not forget, it’s the Clinton campaign, and their surrogates, that keeps dragging up dirt about Obama’s youthful indiscretions, not the other way around.)

Anyway, that’s my take. The dynamics of the campaign changed dramatically today when John Edwards dropped out. Seems like Obama got out in front of it all today.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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