Sunday, May 25, 2008

How The Nomination Was Lost

While Clinton's unfortunate remark invoking the RFK nightmare has become the major talk of the Sunday talk programs, it was probably only likely that at some point Clinton would make such an unfortunate remark in her grasp for justifications of why she's even still in the race with Obama, who is now just a bit short of 50+ delegates from the nomination. The real problem with the Clinton campaign is that she fully expected to have the nomination wrapped up by as early as February 5 or by Super Tuesday and never really had a plan to compete well enough in the 18 caucus events to give her campaign the chance to acquire a majority of delegates.

It was a deeply flawed campaign effort that left little room for error if either John Edwards or Barack Obama made a strong showing in the early contests and built momentum. This is exactly what the Obama campaign did, and went on an 11 contest primary and caucus roll after Super Tuesday, with the Clinton campaign helplessly disorganized enough to effectively build campaign organizations to compete until the Pennsylvania primary, which was by then too late. The idea of a Pennsylvania "firewall" was no better than the failed effort of Giuliani to build a Florida "firewall". Too little, too late.

When the Clinton campaign came in third place in the Iowa caucus contest, it should have been a wake-up call to toolup efforts in the next 17 caucus contests. Instead, the Clinton campaign ended up losing all but the Nevada caucus contest to the better organized Obama campaign. And with primary contest wins in just 19 states compared to 17 primary contest wins for Obama, Clinton has managed to win no better than just 20 total contests to at least 30 wins by the Obama campaign so far, with a handful more contests still out there, but will not change the fact of an eventual Obama victory.

Clinton is now grasping for justifications why she is still in the race. And the fact may be that she is a good enough candidate that she could have won the general election, and even runs better than Obama against McCain in some November matchup polls. But where an election is won or lost is at the campaign level, and Clinton clearly proved that she cannot put together as good of a campaign organization as Obama has done.

There are many good men like Hubert Humphrey and Edward Kennedy who narrowly lost campaigns to be president, but instead became effective Senate figures. This is unfortunately the reality that Clinton will have to accept. Her campaign simply made way too many errors to win her the nomination, so she now must accept the reality that she may never be president. It is cruel that she will be probably be forced to accept a lifetime of "what of's", but that's the cruel nature of politics. In politics there are at least as many losers as winners. Clinton's best hope at this point is continue to be an effective senator from New York state and gain respect from that role, or at least until 2012 comes around.


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