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Dueling spin from Team Clinton
Nick Juliano
Published: Monday May 5, 2008

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A win was a win in PA, but margins matter in NC, IN

With less than 24 hours remaining until Indiana and North Carolina voters head to the polls, Hillary Clinton's campaign seems to be trying to lower expectations using arguments similar to those they dismissed before last month's Pennsylvania primary.

Opening a press conference call Monday, campaign strategist Geoff Garin spoke about the prediction in a leaked memo from Barack Obama's campaign that he would win Indiana and North Carolina, and he touted Clinton's ability to close the gap in recent polls in those states.

"An important way to judge this is the progress we've made over the course of those past couple weeks," Garin said. He pointed to polls in North Carolina that had Clinton down by 20 points several weeks ago; she's since cut that lead by more than half.

The Obama camp's memo, which became public in early February, has accurately predicted the winner in all but one caucus or primary since Super Tuesday, including his losses in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas. It's unclear why Obama's predictions are carrying so much weight now, when Team Clinton argued at every opportunity that Pennsylvania also was a must-win for Obama, although his campaign didn't see things that way.

"I want everyone to have the facts," Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said in response to a question from RAW STORY about the dueling arguments. "And it is a fact that the Obama campaign predicted victory in Indiana and North Carolina."

Every campaign tries to set favorable expectations, particularly in the days and hours before a big contest, but the Clinton camp's efforts to pre-spin a closer-than-expected finish in North Carolina in particularly striking when contrasted with her advisers arguments before Pennsylvania.

There the situation was virtually reversed. Clinton had held leads of about 20 points several weeks before the election, which Obama whittled down to a single-digit margin of victory in the Keystone State's primary on April 22. Before Pennsylvania's vote, Clinton's advisers scoffed at the notion that Obama's ability to close the gap could give him momentum even if he didn't win the vote.

Wolfson said the day before Pennsylvania's vote that a win was a win, regardless of whether their margin of victory was a single vote or 100,000 votes. Clinton won with a margin of 9.2 percent, or more than 200,000 votes.

While Obama still seems headed for victory in North Carolina, expect more arguments from Clinton and her advisers that their ability to reduce his margin shows the strength of her candidacy.

Indiana is another story altogether. While the two candidates were seen as evenly matched as their campaigns ramped up in the Hoosier state, Clinton has opened a solid lead in a state where Obama's campaign predicted a 7 point victory.

Clinton's advisers say Obama is outspending them in the two states voting Tuesday, although not by as much as before Pennsylvania. Obama has spent about $10.5 million, compared to Clinton's $6.7 million; he was outspending her by a two-to-one margin leading up to Pennsylvania.

Wolfson and Garin disputed the suggestion that the Clinton campaign was making contrasting arguments regarding Philadelphia and North Carolina. They said the six-week gap between the Ohio and Texas primaries March 4 and Pennsylvania on April 22 created a unique dynamic in this campaign.

 
 


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