A Little Respect...

Behind The News
March 5, 2008 12:37:31 PM PST
Have we internalized competition so much that we just can't imagine embracing or even respecting those we compete against? I fear the answer is a resounding yes.

Jets fans can't stand the Giants. Mets fans abhor the Yankees. Republicans and Democrats don't get along. Microsoft and Apple don't talk to each other -- literally and figuratively.

On the way to school today, I mentioned to my 12-year-old son -- who I'll admit has a dog in the Presidential hunt and who is fairly emotionally involved -- that I thought all three of the candidates are decent human beings and could do the job. He knows I have my own preferences, but I wanted to see his reaction.

He mouthed agreement, but I sensed he was a bit surprised that I had veered off the "us versus them" highway.

We in the media don't help the situation, what with our who's-ahead-of-whom in the polls. But I suspect we just mirror the prevailing public attitudes about this sort of thing.

I'm thinking about that, on this day-after Super Tuesday II, a day when Hillary Clinton has come back from the dormant, yet again. Last week the pundits were wondering if, on March 5, Sen. Clinton would be pulling out of the race. Now, in terms of momentum -- although not in terms of delegates - she's pulling ahead.

She argues, after winning Ohio and Texas last night, that she has won every big state. Obama has more delegates - although not many more -- and now has to step up. Big time.

Clinton was on fire in her victory speech last night in Ohio. Obama -- not so much. In fact, many people were surprised that he seemed to give his typical stump speech -- motivating, to be sure, but not what was called for on a night when his momentum of 11 straight primary and caucus victories was stopped.

Today Clinton hinted that perhaps, instead of a divisive convention floor fight over delegates, she and Obama could team up for a joint ticket this November against John McCain, who secured the Republican nomination with his victories last night.

But who would be on top in this relationship? Hard to imagine, with the pitted battle these two have gone through, that either would take a backseat.

If Obama wins the nomination, and has Clinton as his Veep, he really has two Clintons, right? And one used to be President, right?

What many Democrats dream of, and what gives Republicans nightmares, is an eight-year tenure for Clinton, followed by an eight-year run for Obama.

This presupposes that these two will get together, of course.

And while they're still warring, the winner is John McCain, who just a few months ago was carrying his own luggage through the airports and virtually written off as a viable candidate.

Today he lunched at the White House. He didn't do any measuring for runners in the hallway, but he did get the blessing of President Bush. The 43rd President gave an unabashed endorsement to the man his party hopes will become the 44th President.

McCain and the President have a long love-hate history. But it was all about the love today. And then I'll bet we don't see President Bush campaigning much for John McCain. The two don't really care for each other, or that's the conventional wisdom. But more importantly, a Bush endorsement is a multi-edged sword for McCain. He has the lowest approval rating since Richard Nixon was in the White House, so being linked to Mr. Bush and the war in Iraq isn't necessarily a positive thing for the McCain campaign.

And an asterisk to last night's victories for McCain - Mike Huckabee, before he dropped out, scored impressive numbers in Ohio and Texas, getting 31% and 38% of the vote. Mostly conservatives, who still can't imagine voting for McCain.

Some of them say they'll sit out the November election, rather than vote for McCain. That's what they say now; we'll see if they change their tune in the fall.

Back to the Dems -- is a convention floor fight inevitable? Tonight, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a Clinton supporter, is proposing re-voting in Michigan and Florida, two states that were told by the national Democratic Party that their primary votes wouldn't count because they moved up their vote dates without Party approval.

Clinton won both contests, but nobody else campaigned in those two states.

A "do-over" might work, although it would likely benefit Sen. Clinton, according to many experts, because of the demographics of the states. We'll see.

We'll have reaction to the latest developments in the race for the Presidency, tonight at 11.

One other item worth noting from last night's elections. It's another TelePrompter moment for me. Keep an eye on how the candidates give speeches. John McCain is totally tied to the Prompter -- and there's just one for him, just to the right of the center camera position. He doesn't utter more than a few words without shifting his eyes back to the device.

Barack Obama, one of the best speakers in the country, also seems to rely on the Prompter, although his staff makes sure that there are two Prompters - so he can move his head from one side of the room to the other, without ever really losing line of sight with the device.

Hillary Clinton did not appear to have any Prompter. She had a written speech - and she referred to her notes, but mostly she made eye contact with her audience. Natural eye contact.

Maybe it's no coincidence that last night Clinton gave one of the best speeches of her campaign - -because she wasn't tied to the TelePrompter. She was just talking.

Watch them on the campaign trail and see if you agree with this assessment.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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