Friday, February 01, 2008

The Tale from Arkansas

Arkansas (with a total of 47 delegates) is one of the smaller Super Tuesday targets on the Democratic side. Moreover, because of Hillary Clinton's 18 years living in the state, there has never been a real doubt that the former First Lady would win the state's primary. But, the state is seeing a surprising amount of campaign activity in the days leading up to February 5th. All three members of the Clinton family will have made appearances in their former home state by week's end. Chelsea Clinton visited the northeast Arkansas college town of Jonesboro last weekend. Hillary Clinton made a high-profile appearance in North Little Rock on Wednesday. And, Bill Clinton will spend the entire day in the state on Friday. On the other side, while the Obama campaign is running a shoestring campaign in the state (There is one paid staffer and only a handful of campaign pamphlets in the state.), the campaign has made a small television ad buy for the closing days. Clearly, the Obama campaign is attempting to win a chunk of the state's delegates through focusing primarily on African-American voters. Those efforts have resulted in the Clintons using a decent amount of their precious campaign time this week in this state where the entire Democratic Party establishment supports Clinton. [Interestingly, the senior U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln has avoided an endorsement in the race.] There is a strong argument that, even if Obama gets a handful of delegates in Arkansas, he has won by taking Hillary and Bill Clinton away from true battleground states. On the other hand, in a week where Bill Clinton's every move and statement is being watched carefully, sending him to the state where he is most at home campaigning and where he will see his friendliest audiences could be the safest place for the surrogate-in-chief to spend the vital hours before February 5th.

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