Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

The rumors of her demise are greatly exaggerated

Captain Ed calls it "utter nonsense" and I'm apt to agree. Drudge is floating a story about a possible exit for Hillary if she loses New Hampshire:

Facing a double-digit defeat in New Hampshire, a sudden collapse in national polls and an expected fund-raising drought, Senator Hillary Clinton is preparing for a tough decision: Does she get out of the race? And when?!

"She can't take multiple double-digit losses in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada," laments one top campaign insider to the DRUDGE REPORT. "If she gets too badly embarrassed, it will really harm her. She doesn't want the Clinton brand to be damaged with back-to-back-to-back defeats."

Meanwhile, Democrat hopeful John Edwards has confided to senior staff that he is staying in the race because Hillary "could soon be out."

"Her money is going to dry up," Edwards confided, a top source said Monday morning.

Key players in Clinton's inner circle are said to be split. James Carville is urging her to fight it out through at least February and Super Tuesday, where she has a shot at thwarting Barack Obama in a big state.

"She did not work this hard to get out after one state! All this talk is nonsense," said one top adviser. But others close to the former first lady now see no possible road to victory, sources claim.

This is exactly the same ploy tried on Fred Thompson just before Iowa and it didn't work then. Certainly Drudge can't be this naive to believe that any of this is true. She has put too much into this campaign to back away now. OK, so she lost to Obama in Iowa, and she'll probably lose to him in New Hampshire, but that's not the end of the world for her. Super Duper Tuesday has over 20 states going at once, including California and New York -- two of the largest states in the nation. If she takes one or both, she's sitting pretty. If she does take both, then it'll be Obama worrying about dropping out or not.

The Politico's Mike Allen has an interesting read today. (Scroll down and click "continue reading" for this one which throws cold water all over Drudge):

Leading citizens of Hillaryland are in a rage. Partly at themselves, partly at each other, partly at the situation. It's like it's their turn in Scrabble, and they have no vowels. They look at the board and see nothing but Os.

They're still disciplined enough that they're not saying much about it. They have 48 hours to execute a plan they've all agreed on. There'll be plenty of time for recriminations. And the senator is keeping her head, so they must keep theirs.

But in those heads: Convinced he would crumble, they waited too long to take the brutal steps necessary to define him — expose him, in their view — as a conventional politician. The press, they think, was too lazy or timid to do its job.

Now, they'll be surprised if they don't lose New Hampshire. And probably South Carolina after that. Luckily for them, the press wants this race of the century to continue, and a tiny number of actual delegates is at stake. Does that give Team HRC a bridge to Feb. 5, when they expect to do well in New York, California, New Jersey and Arkansas?

They know that after New Hampshire, they have to "turn the page" in a dramatic way - in the words of one family strategist, an "acknowledgment of failure" to signal donors, the press and key surrogates that the team has "got the message."

But besides layering/replacing chief strategist Mark Penn, what should/could that gesture be? A few people — maybe only reporters — have floated the idea of benching Bill. But that would probably be dumb, and ain't gonna happen. There is no sentiment for it at the top of the campaign. Al Gore moved to Tennessee, but going to New York clearly doesn't solve anything.

They have a strategy: Focus on states where Democratic primaries are dominated by Democrats. And go negative on television after Tuesday. They decided not to do that here because the window after Iowa was too short to drive a message, and the blowback could have been considerable.

The moment is over folks. Quit gloating because she is far from being down and out. She's in this race for the long haul. She wants the nomination, and she's going to get it even if she has to stay in this race until the convention. Woe be to those that underestimate her. Yes she is battered and bleeding, hemorrhaging numbers she can't afford to lose. But she also knows this is a hiccup in her campaign and that things look better just around the corner when February rolls around. So yes, the rumors of her death are greatly exaggerated.

Publius II


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