Hillary Clinton





Ten Days that Shook the World: Jan 26 to Feb. 4

It’s late Monday night before the Super Tuesday election and I’m reflecting back on the most extraordinary 10 days of politics that I have ever experienced -- 10 days, to borrow a phrase from John Reed, that could shake the world.

Only 10 days ago we watched the South Carolina primary, seen as a do-or-die moment for the Obama campaign. That Saturday January 26th primary was being held only a week after the Nevada Caucuses that Hillary won, a week that was marked by negative campaigning and the constant talk about the impact of race in the pending vote.

Obama had to win and win he did – big. The 55 percent landslide vote for him (versus Clinton 27) was decisive, but just as important was his victory speech. He delivered by all accounts an extraordinary speech that touched almost everyone who viewed it – and millions could via web video and YouTube. That speech beautifully framed the themes that he would continue to articulate for the next 10 days, as he continued to gain momentum day by day.

It’s worth briefly remembering the major developments each day, lest we forget how fast this all took place. The speed is jaw-dropping, but not inexplicable. This speed is part of the new politics of our hyper-connected world. Ten days in 1919 revolutionary Russia with barely any telegraph lines is one thing. Ten days in our over-mediated internet world is another.

Sunday: The Caroline Kennedy New York Times editorial that started the meme of JFK comparisons. It was the critical crack in the dam that started the whole outpouring of Northeast liberal support.

Monday: Senator Edward Kennedy’s endorsement at American University was jammed with ecstatic young people. The Kennedy meme gets turbo-charged, and the establishment Democratic pols who had held fast out of respect for Hillary begin to break ranks.

Overshadowed in all this is President Bush’s State of the Union address, which is countered by Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, (who the next day endorses Obama in the heartland), and Barack himself who does a web video response that catches a viral wave in YouTube and tops the charts as the most popular video 24 hours later (now at more than 1 million views).

Tuesday: The Florida primary is held amid a lot of acrimony for Democrats. The national party had said no delegate would be seated because of the state party pushing the primary to the front of the line. The Democratic candidates agree not to campaign there, but Hillary decides to go down to Florida for a victory party since the names are still on the ballot and, in fact, she comes out on top. All night CNN and other TV stations display the results and confuse the audience. Obama supporters seethe at what they consider dirty tactics.

Wednesday: The Edwards bombshell drops. After telling everyone that he was in the race til the convention, John Edwards decides to abruptly pull out before Super Tuesday. The great sorting process begins for former Edwards supporters, but more to the point, for the progressive wing of the Democratic party. They must figure out which of the remaining two will best carry out the progressive cause. MoveOn decides to hold an unprecedented “election” of its members to see whether a two-thirds majority will endorse.

Thursday: The morning does not start well for the Clintons. The New York Times publishes an above-the-fold front page article on former President Clinton’s shady dealings with the authoritarian leader of Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev. A crack team of Times reporters nails down the story of how a buddy of Bill’s is able to secure a lucrative uranium deal against all odds shortly after Bill and Buddy visit Kazakhstan for a sumptuous banquet with the strongman, who Clinton praises. The buddy makes a killing when the price of uranium skyrockets, and then proceeds to donate more than $130 million to Clinton’s charitable foundation. For many Times readers the whole deal reeks, and is reminiscent of the bad old days of Whitewater.

Hillary has her own bad media day when ABC News digs up old video tapes of her time serving on the board of directors of Wal-Mart, between 1986 and 1992. They show her remaining silent as the company waged a battle against any efforts to unionize the Wal-Mart workers.

By the evening, the Democratic Debate takes place in Hollywood, in none other than Kodak theater, the site of the academy awards. The stars come out for this one too, (though substantially less decked out). California, and the rest of the nation really tune in as the two candidates pretty much debate to a draw, but the newcomer Obama benefits more from two hours straight in the national media sun.

Friday: MoveOn does endorse, after 70 percent of members who vote choose Obama. This commits the powerful 3.2 million member organization to put its online organizational machine into overdrive.

The online money story starts to really make the rounds. Obama raised $32 million in the month of January, more than any presidential candidate has ever raised in a month during competitive primaries. But the real kicker is that $28 million of it came online, and 90 percent of those online donations were less than $100, meaning the campaign can come back to those people time and time again before they max out at the $2300 cap. Clinton meanwhile, declined to say what she raised, though it came out later that she raised only $13 million in the same period. In other words, Obama raised almost $20 million more than her.

Saturday: Time Magazine comes out with a cover story for the coming week on “Why Young Voters Care Again, and Why Their Vote Matters.” The text reads like an infomercial for Obama, who clearly garners the vast majority of Millennial Generation support. So Time ensures that in doctors and dentists offices across America this week, the talk among patients will be about these kids and why they love Obama.

Sunday: The Los Angeles Times comes out with a glowing endorsement of Obama, to join the San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, and San Jose Mercury News. To top it off, Maria Shriver, first lady to popular Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, surprises the Obama camp by showing up to a big rally of women in LA and endorsing Barack.

Monday: Polls are now showing the critical state of California as a virtual dead heat. This is an extraordinary shift in fortunes. In the summer. Clinton led everyone by 30 percent, by December she still held a solid 12 percent lead.

Some national polls even put Obama ahead of Clinton. Again, this an extraordinary shift in fortunes. As of only Jan 20th, Gallop had Hillary 20 points ahead of Obama; by Feb 2nd she was only 2 points ahead – statistically tied.

By Monday night, when I am writing this, on west coast time near midnight, an incredible YouTube video tells the story. The Barack Obama Music Video, created only about 48 hours earlier by a group of popular young musicians, passes the mark of 1 million views. The title is appropriately called: Yes We Can.

If you have not watched it, do so. It explains, as much as anything, what it is about Obama that many people clearly love.

I don’t know exactly what the Tuesday elections will bring in terms of final results. But I do know that we have crossed a threshold of American politics where we are in uncharted turf. It’s very possible that what will come out of this primary will be very powerful indeed. It may well shake up American politics, and roll through the November election, and yes, it might just shake up the world.

We’re all spectators to what is now unfolding, but we’re also all actors. Whatever comes next is up to us.

Let’s see what the next 10 days will bring.

And please vote. Thanks.

Peter Leyden

Director of the New Politics Institute

Hillary Clinton's final NV appeal: English and Spanish ads

Hillary Clinton makes her final appeal in Nevada with "Voices" and "La Voz de los que no tienen Voz".


"La Voz de los que no tienen Voz":

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