Wednesday morning, the Clinton campaign sent reporters and bloggers covering the campaign a statement that consisted of questions and comments under the title of "Keystone Test: Obama Losing Ground."
The Obama campaign's communications department decided to annotate those questions and comments with some comments of their own... and boy, they held nothing back.
Below you'll find the annotated e-mail that has been making the rounds of the media. The Obama campaign's comments are in bold.
To: Interested Parties
From: Clinton Campaign
Date: Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Re: Keystone Test: Obama Losing Ground [Get ready for a good one.]
The path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue goes through Pennsylvania so if Barack Obama can't win there, how will he win the general election?
[Answer: I suppose by holding obviously Democratic states like California and New York, and beating McCain in swing states like Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia and Wisconsin where Clinton lost to Obama by mostly crushing margins. But good question.]
After setbacks in Ohio and Texas, Barack Obama needs to demonstrate that he can win the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is the last state with more than 15 electoral votes on the primary calendar and Barack Obama has lost six of the seven other largest states so far -- every state except his home state of Illinois.
[If you define "setback" as netting enough delegates out of our 20-plus-point wins in Mississippi and Wyoming to completely erase any delegate advantage the Clinton campaign earned out of March 4th, then yeah, we feel pretty setback.]
Pennsylvania is of particular importance, along with Ohio, Florida and Michigan, because it is dominated by the swing voters who are critical to a Democratic victory in November. No Democrat has won the presidency without winning Pennsylvania since 1948. And no candidate has won the Democratic nomination without winning Pennsylvania since 1972.
[What the Clinton campaign secretly means: PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT WE'VE LOST 14 OF THE LAST 17 CONTESTS AND SAID THAT MICHIGAN AND FLORIDA WOULDN'T COUNT FOR ANYTHING. Also, we're still trying to wrap our minds around the amazing coincidence that the only "important" states in the nominating process are the ones that Clinton won.]
But the Obama campaign has just announced that it is turning its attention away from Pennsylvania.
This is not a strategy that can beat John McCain in November.
[I don't think Clinton's strategy of losing in state after state after promising more of the same politics is working all that well either.]
In the last two weeks, Barack Obama has lost ground among men, women, Democrats, independents and Republicans -- all of which point to a candidacy past its prime.
["A candidacy past its prime." These guys kill me.]
For example, just a few weeks ago, Barack Obama won 68% of men in Virginia, 67% in Wisconsin and 62% in Maryland. He won 60% of Virginia women and 55% of Maryland women. He won 62% of independents in Maryland, 64% in Wisconsin and 69% in Virginia. Obama won 59% of Democrats in Maryland, 53% in Wisconsin and 62% in Virginia. And among Republicans, Obama won 72% in both Virginia and Wisconsin.
But now Obama's support has dropped among all these groups.
[That's true, if you don't count all the winning we've been up to. As it turns out, it's difficult to maintain 40-point demographic advantages, even over Clinton]
In Mississippi, he won only 25% of Republicans and barely half of independents. In Ohio, he won only 48% of men, 41% of women and 42% of Democrats. In Texas, he won only 49% of independents and 46% of Democrats. And in Rhode Island, Obama won just 33% of women and 37% of Democrats.
[I'm sympathetic to their attempt to parse crushing defeats. And I'm sure Rush Limbaugh's full-throated endorsement of Clinton didn't make any difference. Right]
Why are so many voters turning away from Barack Obama in state after state?
[You mean besides the fact that we're ahead in votes, states won and delegates?]
In the last few weeks, questions have arisen about Obama's readiness to be president. In Virginia, 56% of Democratic primary voters said Obama was most qualified to be commander-in-chief. That number fell to 37% in Ohio, 35% in Rhode Island and 39% in Texas.
[Only the Clinton campaign could cherry pick states like this. But in contrast to their logic, in the most recent contest of Mississippi, voters said that Obama was more qualified to be commander in chief than Clinton by a margin of 55-42.]
So the late deciders -- those making up their minds in the last days before the election -- have been shifting to Hillary Clinton. Among those who made their decision in the last three days, Obama won 55% in Virginia and 53% in Wisconsin, but only 43% in Mississippi, 40% in Ohio, 39% in Texas and 37% in Rhode Island.
[If only there were enough late deciders for the Clinton campaign to actually be ahead, they would really be on to something.]
If Barack Obama cannot reverse his downward spiral with a big win in Pennsylvania, he cannot possibly be competitive against John McCain in November.[Thanks for the laughs guys. This was great.]
[If they are defining downward spiral as a series of events in which the Clinton campaign has lost more votes, lost more contests and lost more delegates to us ... I guess we will have to suffer this horribly painful slide all the way to the nomination and then on to the White House.]