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Obama Opens Two-Front Fight

By Jonathan Weisman
HOUSTON -- With Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton still battling, some Democrats have wondered who will battle Republican John McCain as he turns toward the general election.

But an increasingly confident Obama is beginning to battle on two fronts, holding off Clinton with one arm as he takes increasingly frequent swings at McCain with the other. At Obama rallies, McCain has become a foil, the object of boos and hisses for the partisan faithful. But Obama appears to believe he has found the way to attack, even as he continues his outreach to Republicans.

"I revere and honor John McCain's service to his country. He's a genuine hero," Obama told a packed house at Houston's Toyota Center Tuesday night, during his roughly 45-minute post-Wisconsin victory speech. "But when he embraces George Bush's failed economic policies, when he says he's willing to send our troops into another 100 years in Iraq, then he represents the party of yesterday, and we want to be the party of tomorrow."

It helps that Obama now lumps both his opponents into the same camp, the Washington establishment that voted for war in Iraq and has catered to special interests.

"The last thing we need is to have the same old folks doing the same old things, making the same mistakes over and over again," he said in Houston.

There was no mention of McCain's votes against Bush's first-term tax cuts or his old refrain against the Iron Triangle of lobbyists and lawmakers in Washington, but for now, none seems necessary.

For all of Obama's talk of appealing to independents and Republicans, his stump speech is aimed at his believers.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 19, 2008; 10:33 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Hillary Rodham Clinton , John McCain , Primaries , The Democrats  
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Comments

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Posted by: plhav dlniu | April 16, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

soonipi6 said: "PhilTR-you may be a male independent, but I don't think you fit the profile of "the independent" that I posted earlier."

Sorry I don't fit into your preconceived notion of what an independent should look like. You'll get over it.

Posted by: PhilTR | February 20, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

PhilTR-you may be a male independent, but I don't think you fit the profile of "the independent" that I posted earlier...keep muddling along to Mudville...enjoy the scenery.

Posted by: soonipi6 | February 20, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

jameswhanger again laments: "It's your perspective that is being trounced at the ballot box. Truth?? "

First off, I'm an independent. Second what perspective do you speak of?

Posted by: PhilTR | February 20, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

PhilTR,

It's your perspective that is being trounced at the ballot box. Truth??

Posted by: jameswhanger | February 20, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

jameswhanger laments: "To suggest that Obama supporters don't recognize that Obama is a politician is insulting. And to further suggest that we are too stupid to recognize that Obama won't likely achieve everything he wishes, is beyond insulting. "

Yeah, the truth is sometimes a bi*ch.

Posted by: PhilTR | February 20, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Soonipig, you are WAY right! I'm an 'older' white woman who changed her regist. to caucus for Obama. The Repub I have lived with for 45 years is SOOOOO mad at Bush=Cheney=Rove trifecta; all the hell that it has brought us and the country are 100% to blame for the defection from the party.Obama is the right guy at the right time. Altho I would vote for Hillary, I can't go for another 4-8 years of Clintonian drama that Bill inevitably drags with them. Nope---if McCain campaigns with GWB at his side, he might as well commit hara-kiri, because that's what it is in effect: political suicide for him and a broader victory for the Dems.

Posted by: mb1957 | February 20, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

JOHN MCCAIN is simply TOO OLD to be PRESIDENT. Watching John McCain's Straight Talk Express is a bit like watching The Night of the Living Dead. Obama packs stadiums, McCain can barely pack a press conference in a hotel ballroom.

Posted by: LondonInNY | February 20, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

PhilTR,

David Brooks (a republican), like Clinton supporters, does not get it. We support Obama for many reasons unrelated to his analysis - he misses the mark.

1. We want someone who is intelligent enough to do the job -- Obama is a Harvard Law grad.

2. We want someone who understands why it is important to play fair -- Obama plays fair.

3. We want someone who is NOT mean spirited -- OBAMA is not.

4. Likeability plays a much more important role than these guys want to admit -- Obama is likeable.

To suggest that Obama supporters don't recognize that Obama is a politician is insulting. And to further suggest that we are too stupid to recognize that Obama won't likely achieve everything he wishes, is beyond insulting.

Posted by: jameswhanger | February 20, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Yes, there's something really creepy about all these people, especially young people, getting excited about politics, following elections, turning out in record numbers, and having faith in government. It's enough to make you think we've got some kind of weird "democracy" thing. How sick.

Posted by: davestickler | February 20, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Well it indeed looks as if Hillary's star is fading. Barack looks more and more likely to become the nominee of the Democratic Party. So what next?

As I see it, Barack and McCain will each embark on a two pronged strategy of race-bating and fear to deal with each other.

Barack will have to out race-bait McCain as his campaign and supporters so successfully did with the Clinton's manipulating them and successfully putting them on the defensive with specious accusations of intimidation race-bating. They were able to pull this off using the "Bill Clinton is a southern politician who knows what he is doing" foil. Barack and his supporters will then have to hang the millstone of fear and war mongering around McCain's neck making a vote for McCain a vote for capitulating to fear and war ad infinitum.

McCain, on the other hand, will have to out race-bait Barack by calling Barack on what his supporters were so successful at doing to the Clinton's. He will then have to hang the millstone of Muslim culture, islamofascism and terrorism around Barack's neck making a vote for Barack somehow a vote for the terrorists.

McCain only need to be careful not to say anything Barack's supporters can run with. If he does, it has to be calculated, possibly couched in patriotic terms where any accusation coming from the Barack camp can successfully be interpreted as unpatriotic.

David Brooks of the NY Times has stepped up the dismantling of Barack's candidacy buy labeling Barack's followers as cultists infatuated with the cult of personality and coining a new catch phrase, Obama Comedown Syndrome (O.C.S.) I suspect the cult of Obama is in for quite an education in the upcoming months. The right wing hate machine is itching to join the fray you can be sure. It should be mildly interesting.

Posted by: PhilTR | February 20, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

There is a new dynamic that has emerged in the Democratic primaries that has not existed before..the older white educated man. They could be considered economic conservatives with moderate or liberal positions on social issues, mostly independent ,and these guys are mad as hell after two terms of the madness of the Bush/Cheney disaster. They may wince at the Democratic tax plan if they think it could stall the economy,but their vote says they will take that chance to get rid of the Republicans. These guys are bright, strong and tough and once committed, are not accustomed to losing at anything. They are not Democrats but they have become anti-Republican to the core..and Democrats..be very happy you got them. For those of you who want civility in the general election process, you'd better cancel your cable and internet service, because it ain't happening. Getting Barack Obama to the White House is going to be as tough as getting a soldier across Omaha Beach in 1944. Obama must continue to take the high road ,but the rest of us are going into the trenches to attack the narrow minded, phobic, war mongering and freedom killing Republicans with everything we got...losing is not an option.

Posted by: soonipi6 | February 20, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

limon1: That's a really good point. I'm not sure it was intended push Bill over the edge, but that was certainly the effect.

Posted by: BABucher | February 20, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

"It helps that Obama now lumps both his opponents into the same camp, the Washington establishment that voted for war in Iraq and has catered to special interests."

They've lumped themselves into the same camp with their words, actions and votes over the past seven years.

Posted by: bourassa1 | February 20, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Please email Obama and McCain and tell them to make their campaigns carbon neutral.

They talk a big game about environmental reform, but it is empty rhetoric if they don't take the lead in their campaigns.

Obama... http://my.barackobama.com/page/s/contact2

McCain... http://www.johnmccain.com/Contact/

Washington Times Story... http://washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080219/NATION/576162886/1001

www.greenpieceblog.com

Posted by: crumbrye1 | February 20, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Last night I actually heard a Clinton Spokesperson say something to the effect that Hillary did well in Wisonsin considering she was outspent and Obama had a lot more field offices than Hillary. Hello?! All that tells me is that he is running a first class campaign which can compete in EVERY state! Hillary's admission that her campaign was under-manned and under-funded in Wisonsin is a telling sign that she is toast!

Posted by: NMModerate1 | February 20, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

quote:
For all of Obama's talk of appealing to independents and Republicans, his stump speech is aimed at his believers.
:end quote

That was kind of a nasty back-hand from Weisman

According to Virginia exit polls
One out of every five Democratic primary voters were independent -- and those voters chose Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, 67 to 32 percent.

Seven percent of the voters in that contest were Republican voters who decided not to vote in their own party's primary - they chose Obama by an even larger margin, 71 to 25 percent over Clinton.

Source: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/02/12/independent-voters-break-for-obama-and-against-mccain/

If Sen. Obama is not reaching out to independents and republicans in his messages why is he getting their votes?

Posted by: Absolute_0-K | February 20, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

""The last thing we need is to have the same old folks doing the same old things, making the same mistakes over and over again," he said in Houston."

How is this NOT appealing to I's and R's?????

Posted by: judgeccrater | February 20, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Of course Obama's stump speech is aimed at believers rather than Republicans. This is still the Democratic party primary that he's in the middle of.

What a ridiculous criticism.

Posted by: JacksonLanders | February 20, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Hillary-McCain coalition against the Democratic Front RUnner??

Hillary-GOP Coalition against the will of Democratic Party??

Hillary-Bush(aka McCain) Coalition against the forces of change??

Posted by: pmcsnim | February 20, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

For all those Clintonistas and McCaniacs, when will you stop majoring in the minors? It's far easier to mindlessly repeat the polemic rhetoric. Its' far difficult to lower your drawbridges so you discern the rhetoric with some honesty and humility.

The Clintonistas and the McCaniacs need to realize the power of the Zeitgeist (yes, if you can blog then you can Google this word and enlighten yourselves). We are not seeing an American Idol moment. Rather, we are seeing a providential movement. And this movement needs someone beyond the level of a self-serving politician who will repeat history. This movement needs a leader that inspires, transcends, listens, sees and think outside the box so that "new" history is made rather than merely repeated.

For those so-called conservatives who keep repeating the "empty-suit" and "hollow change" rhetoric, when will you overcome your disabilities of selective hearing and selective memories? Furthermore, when can you so-called conservatives rise above your need to "conserve" and guarantee your status, your power, your wealth and your tradition? What does it take for you so-called "conservatives" to realize that "too whom much is given, much is required?"

Finally, when can we start grasping ideas beyond our fingertips, and realize that it's not all about the "I" and the "me" that ultimately matters? As Bette Midler says in a song, why are we "the one who won't be taken who cannot seem to give . . . and the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live?"

Posted by: YahMon123 | February 20, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

McCain's attacks are echoes of Hillary's, proving that he and she graduated the same political philosophy school. Great. He is playing right into Obama's strength. McCain really doesn't get it. He claims that the people solve problems, not government. He thereby rejects the notion that it is a government of, by, and for the people--which is what Obama is running on. The people want to exercise their power, their voices heard, and their voices counted.

Posted by: edwcorey | February 20, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I have cast my vote in the past against George Bush I and George Bush II. However, this time around I'm voting FOR Barack Obama because I do believe in HOPE. Barack Obama is bringing respect and honor back to the White House!!!

I am sick and tired of the Clinton's using the backs of the middle class to further their egos. Ask why haven't they released their tax information? Clearly they are hiding something....again!

Posted by: mory14 | February 20, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I believe, barring some miracle that would cause a total reversal in the perception of Obama, that Clinton is finished in this presidential primary cycle. The best thing she could do for her political future is to go through the debates, staying positive and upbeat and let the wave continue.It is simply too much for her to expect to gain much traction in this race for the nomination. However, if she continues to go negative and damage Obama for the general election, or disrupt the convention, she could so further her damage her reputation that she would never have a chance to run again and maybe could possibly even damage her standing with her constituents in New York and run the risk of being defeated even there in 2012. If she goes out in a civil tone she could be respected as a party elder in the future and might have some chance at a later date. But if she kicks over the can of gas on the way out of the building, everything could be gone for her forever in one quick puff of smoke.

Posted by: majorteddy | February 20, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Arrogance and incompetence has always been the down fall of man. In Hillary's case it is woman. Malpractice of her campaign strategy to concede smaller states to Obama is unreal. Not setting up states for action has cost so much that it put her campaign on a destructive, divisive and defensive mode. She is taking unmerciful beatings and the only way she can save her dignity is to throw in the towel for the better candidate. If she don't know better, she will learn the hard way that Texas will bring her a thumping and Ohio will totally destroy her chance to ever run for office again including getting reelected to the US senate. If she wants to be arrogant and bleed out, that is a shock that will destroy her system. Only the ignorant will allow them self's to crash & burn. She has more class then that.

Posted by: stanjax3 | February 20, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Well put diskaveg! (Does that make Bill Lofty?)

Posted by: cjsc | February 20, 2008 6:37 AM | Report abuse


Fired UP:

Obama wins Wisconsin and Hawaii.

Call *that* plagiarism.

Now the Clinton camp can most *assuredly* use the phrase: "Ready to go."

If you haven't been to a rally, or have, and want to take it with you, you can get the entire Obama rally setlist--all the way from U2's "City of Blinding Lights", to which Obama takes the stage, to the Obama victory anthem "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" at ITunes, here:

http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewIMix?id=273868596&s=143441&v0=575

Posted by: caraprado1 | February 20, 2008 6:23 AM | Report abuse

I was thrilled to see Senator Obama show the great degree of respect he did for Senator McCain early in his speech tonight in Houston. Although John McCain lost a great deal of the respect I used to have for him as a Presidential candidate by pandering to conservatives and evangelicals for the past 8 years in his effort to make himself more palatable as their nominee, he is a bonafide war hero, patriot and a pretty fair Senator of very long standiing. As such, he deserves the show of respect that Obama offered him; and I know from reading THE AUDACITY OF HOPE, in which Senator Obama candidly discusses many of his Senate colleagues that his words were sincere.

Some pundits hailed McCain's speech as the best of the three given tonight. I thought that Senator Obama completely took the sails out of any argument that Senator McCain ofered this evening as to why he would make a better President than Barack Obama, and he did so while taking the high road.

McCain urged his supporters to "not be decieved by an eloquent but empty call for change". Senator Obama couldn't have deflated this charge any better if he'd been provided an advance copy of Senator McCain's speech and been given a week to prepare his response.

I felt that McCain clearly showed why he will lose badly to Obama on the subject of National Defence/Forein Affairs among an American electorate that is fed of with our current war in Iraq and any inclination by candidates who may already be fanning the flames of the next unpopular and unnecessary war. I was stunned when John McCain made a call to arms, linking his hawkish talk against Iran with the term "Weapons of Mass Destruction". Surely any such ill-advised rhetoric reminding Americans of Bush's rush to war in Iraq will not give this kind of saber rattling about Iran a warm reception among voters. McCain made matters worse by either lying or misstaing Senator Obama's position concerning Pakistan (he's obviously taking almost all of his cues from the Clinton Campaign at this stage in the campaign). Senator McCain falsely stated that Senator Obama "threatened to bomb our ally, Pakistan. What the Senator from Arizona was obviously alluding to was Obama's statement that in a hypothetical situation where he felt their was "actionable intelligence" on the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden, in Pakistan, he would feel it was his duty to lauch a strike toget the man responsible for the murder of so many Americans on 911, with or without the permission of the Pakistani President. I doubt many Americans would disagree with that decision!

Barack Obama gave a speech that was long on details covering virtually every major issue in this campaign. So much for Clinton's and McCains attacks thathe lacked substance or offers nothing but words or "an eloquent but empty call for change. There was really nothing new about what I heard Senator Obama say regarding the issues tonight. For those of us who have studied the man and the issues, these are the same stands he has always taken on the issues - he simply did a more thorough job of laying them out tonight for voters who have been for some reason unable or unwilling to discern this information earlier in the campaign. I was particularly taken by his explanationof how "change happens from the bottom up", and his call not only for voters support in the primaries, or their support in the general election in November, but more importantly for our support after this electionis over. This is truly what the Obama Campaign has been about - the American people taking our government back, and Senator Obama very candidly stated that he could not make the promised changes without our help and participation.

Hillary's speech was a travesty, in my judgement. She did not publicly congratulate Senator Obama on his victory, nor did she thank her volunteers or the voters in Wisconsin who supported her on Tuesday. Her overall performance could best be described as lackluster and uninspiring. She repeated the same old baseless charges against her opponent and he made her eat crow with his detailed presentationon issues which were largely lacking in her speech this evening. Clinton made several ket errors in her speech tonight in Ohio. She stated, "you'll never be able to use our tax dollars to outsource American jobs". Wasn't her husband hugely responsible for starting that trend that George W Bush has been only too happy to continue? I thought her question, "when the speeches are over and the cameras are gone,who will be there to listen to you" was laughable. Perhaps her biggest gaff of the night was her statement, "we will shatter the highest, hardest, glass ceiling", obviously claiming that electing a woman would be a much greater obstacle to overcome than electing an African American (or maybe she just can't help pandering to women after so much time spent on that effort). My favorite by far of the night had to have been her attempt to link the war in Iraq with "Cowboy Diplomacy". If the War in Iraq was Cowboy Diplomacy (in her defence, it was) then Hillary Clinton must be Annie Oakley!

Posted by: diksagev | February 20, 2008 3:00 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Obama is looking very strong now, especially with reports like this:

Texas Primary- Hillary vs. Barack:
http://newsusa.myfeedportal.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=50

Does Clinton have any last ace-cards to play?

Posted by: davidmwe | February 20, 2008 1:11 AM | Report abuse

It's over, and has been since Maine. Maine demonstrated Obama's ability to administer a beatdown in a very white state. That made Potomac Day a forgone conclusion, which laid the foundation for Wisconsin and Hawaii. Hillary needs at least 65% of the delegates from Texas and Ohio just to be even! Not going to happen. Every day wasted with Hillary's true believers is a wasted opportunity to come together and focus on McCain. It's over.

Posted by: gmundenat | February 20, 2008 1:02 AM | Report abuse

Me, too, Soldier's mom. I'm proud of white Americans, too. It takes a different kind of courage to celebrate the diversity that is America when you're in the majority (rather than in the minority, as I am), and I'm proud of my fellow Americans.

There's a line from a children's poem that goes something like "Leona sees the world as it wants to be." Obama is seeing us we *want* to be, and we're living up to the ideal. He'll fail if we let him down. But, maybe we won't.

Posted by: purpleaster | February 19, 2008 11:44 PM | Report abuse

OK,
At the risk of drawing the ire of radio talk-show hosts, my pride in America has had its ups & downs.
But tonight Wisconsin not only made me proud to be American, for the first time in my adult life it made me proud to be a WHITE American!!

Posted by: SoldiersMom | February 19, 2008 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Everything started when Obama said "Reagan had a transformational presidency whereas Bill Clinton did not". (or something for that effect). A very academic point that is not used frequently among Dems because it implies belittling Bill Clinton's two terms in Office. But old Bill's pride was hurt and he went bananas in South Carolina, making a puppet out of Hillary. From that point on, it has been a long political agony for her. Poor girl. She is done.

Posted by: limon1 | February 19, 2008 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Everything started when Obama said "Reagan had a transformational presidency whereas Bill Clinton did not". (or something for that effect). A very academic point that is not used frequently among Dems because it implies some belittling of Bill Clinton two terms in Office. But old Bill pride was hurted and he went bananas in South Carolina, making a sidekick out of Hillary. From that point on, it has been a long political agony for Hillary. Poor girl.

Posted by: limon1 | February 19, 2008 11:25 PM | Report abuse

As the exit numbers look, the negative ads from the Hillary camp really had a bad effect on her in Wisconsin. 66% said that her attacks were unfair to Obama, as opposed to 33% that felt Obama was unfair to Hillary.

I think that the Hillary camp will cease with the overt negativity, but continue it under the table. But then again, I thought Obama would only win by a 7-11 point margin.

Posted by: CitizenXX | February 19, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I voted for Hillary (Virginia), but I'm reminded of that line from The Matrix. He's beginning to believe. Perhaps I am too,

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 19, 2008 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Jonathan Weisman wrote -- For all of Obama's talk of appealing to independents and Republicans, his stump speech is aimed at his believers.

Jonathan, from what I heard on MSNBC, 1/3 of the voters in the WI Democratic primary were independents, and they broke heavily for Obama. Plus, we've been hearing about an emerging group of voters called "Obamicans," aka Obama Republicans. Sounds to me like even though Obama might be delivering an updated version of his stump speech that "his believers" as you call them are growing in numbers. How else can we explain the fact that Obama's been cutting into Clinton's constituencies in the Potomac Primaries and now in WI?

Posted by: ericp331 | February 19, 2008 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, what a wonderful night for Democracy. It was a wide margine of voters that brought victory to Obama, making inroads into Hillary's base. It looks like the only ones left for Hillary are the over 50 white women.

It looks like my 7-11 point win by Obama in Wisconsin was way off base.

Posted by: CitizenXX | February 19, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Obama vs. McCain will be Clinton vs. Bush Senior all over again. Youth, energy and superb political instincts against a worn out representative of an older generation whose time has passed but can't recognize it. Actually it's even better than 1992 for the Democrats, because there is such anger at the Bush Administration right now, which wasn't there in 1992.

Posted by: lostintranslation | February 19, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

In your opinion is Hillary Clinton finished?

http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=1754


.

Posted by: jeffboste | February 19, 2008 10:46 PM | Report abuse

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