By Kevin Wilson: FNNM Columnist
It was only a few months ago pundits left and right were calling the Hillary Clinton campaign a runaway train.
With Clinton and Barack Obama in a close race for the Democratic nomination, it looks as if those predictions may be wrong. Likewise, you can take a grain of salt with my view the Clinton campaign is starting to derail a little.
It started after Super Tuesday, when numerous states, including New Mexico, held nominating functions. When it became clear a tight race was developing between her and Sen. Obama, Clinton looked for every delegate she could find, even ones that don’t exist.
Both Florida and Michigan moved primary dates up in the calendar, despite threats from the Democratic Party that such moves would result in their delegates being stripped. They moved their races up, and lost their delegates. With no delegates to be won, every Democratic candidate but Clinton took their name off the ballot in Michigan and nobody but Clinton campaigned in Florida.
Clinton won both states, and is now arguing those states should receive delegates because they’re otherwise being disenfranchised.
I argue voters are disenfranchised if Clinton receives delegates when voters either didn’t receive an opportunity to choose Obama on the ballot, or when voters aren’t given any local chances to hear other candidates.
If Clinton were arguing for new primaries, which the Democratic National Committee has previously offered to pay for, I’d be fine with it. But she’s not.
That’s not the only reason I have doubts. I’m also wondering why the Clinton campaign has such disdain for red states — those that voted Republican in 2004, with many backing Obama in 2008.
Clinton’s argument is that Obama’s only winning delegates from states that will vote Republican, so his delegates aren’t worth as much as hers.
But why should you believe me? I’ll let the campaign do it for me, with the words of Michigan campaign co-chairman Joel Ferguson.
“The real second-class delegates are the delegates that are picked in red-state caucuses that are never going to vote Democratic,” Ferguson said.
Or maybe I’ll pick the words of Clinton’s chief strategist, Mark Penn.
“Could we possibly have a nominee who hasn’t won any of the significant states — outside of Illinois? That raises some serious questions about Sen. Obama,” Penn said.
So apparently the only “significant states” are the ones that vote for Clinton. This isn’t the “leave no race uncontested” philosophy that helped Democrats retake Congress in 2006; instead, it’s the “let’s win our guaranteed blue states and hope we can pick up a vote somewhere else” philosophy that led to failed 2000 and 2004 presidential runs for Al Gore and John Kerry.
Let’s ignore for a minute that Clinton’s been campaigning heavily in Texas, one of the reddest states you’ll find, and just opened a campaign office in Lubbock on Tuesday.
Clinton needs to realize Democratic voters in any state would help her administration. Take New Mexico, a 2004 red state with four of five Congressional seats up for grabs in wide-open races (the seat not up for re-election is Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman).
Even if the Democratic nominee doesn’t get New Mexico’s electoral votes, those voters could provide a Democratic president with five Democrats in Congress. Sounds like significant help on legislation from insignificant states.
Maybe Clinton will recover, but I’m not so sure. I have serious doubts in any candidate who says that rules and red state voters don’t matter, and I doubt I’m alone in those principles.
Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom New Mexico. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail: