The 11th Hour Tactics

Super Tuesday is beginning to look like an electoral landmark for the United States. In recent decades voter turnout has decreased to the point that high turnout democratic elections around the world have challenged the global perception that U.S represents a leading voice in consensual governance. What should not be missed throughout the political discourse and rhetoric, is that the U.S media and citizens– together– have notched new levels in engaging within the national election process.

This said, it is important to watch the political rhetoric and how different camps approach Super Tuesday in different methods. While some pundits and self-ascribed experts push for a candidate based on individual preferences, others are beginning to tailor their endorsement toward a Party endorsement, rather than an individual endorsement. Take, for instance, Randi Rhodes, who hosts one of the liberal shows on Air America radio. Although her web page continues to promote Barack Obama, her discussion on February 4 took a different direction. Asking for callers to dial in and give their opinions on either Obama or Clinton, Rhodes proceeded to attack callers’ points in favor or dismissal of Obama and Clinton. Her point: support the Democratic ticket, regardless.

Rush Limbaugh, one of the longest leading radio voices for the conservative wing, has taken a different stance. As already discussed on YouDecide2008, he and other conservatives have worked to tear away at the leading Republican nominee, John McCain, who according to a recent RCP average, leads his rivals by over 20 points. In his last hour on the radio February 4th, Rush argued that Mitt Romney was the candidate who “stands for all three legs of conservatism.” His argument against McCain– voting for him would be transforming the Republican Party into a Liberal Party. There is of course a counter punch to every last minute effort– the question is how quick and, more importantly, how effective it is. Bob Dole, the former Republican presidential nominee, wrote in to Rush in defense of John McCain. There are also many others, such as the former governor of New York George Pataki, who are changing gears at the last minute.

Candidates themselves are demonstrating their last minute strategies and, in some ways, their platform’s integrity as the nuts and bolts of time tighten toward February 5’s finale. With 3,156 delegates up for grabs in the 22 states, Republican and Democratic campaigns have turned to independent agencies in order to sway voters. Inflammatory emails on Hillary Clinton and her role with Wal-Mart have surfaced, and NOW, a national women’s rights group, released an email attacking Barack Obama’s record for being pro-choice. According to the Washington Post, the Clinton Campaign employed these same tactics in the 11th hour to win over voters in the New Hampshire primary:

The e-mail from Rosemary J. Dempsey, president of the Connecticut National Organization for Women, told members that Obama’s record during his time in the Illinois Senate included several instances in which he voted “present” instead of yes or no on abortion-related legislation.

The e-mail quotes Bonnie Grabenhofer, the president of Illinois NOW, as saying that “voting present on those bills was a strategy that Illinois NOW did not support,” and adding: “We made it clear at the time that we disagreed with the strategy. . . . Voting present doesn’t provide a platform from which to show leadership and say with conviction that we support a woman’s right to choose and these bills are unacceptable.”

The Clinton campaign has made the same charge repeatedly over the past year.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), an Obama supporter, sent out a reply to the NOW e-mail yesterday afternoon, defending his record on abortion and criticizing the e-mail as an effort to “to falsely attack and artificially divide us.”

“The facts are clear — in the Illinois state senate, choice advocates asked strong pro-choice legislators like Senator Obama to vote ‘present’ on Republican-designed bills like a ban on partial birth abortion to protect a woman’s right to choose,” she wrote. “Senator Obama has always had a 100 percent pro-choice rating, and he is the only candidate running for President who stood up and spoke out when South Dakota passed an incredibly restrictive ban on abortion.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s retort was quick, and quite a strong return to NOW’s attack. If the Obama Camp can continue to bat away last minute attacks with raising the issue of transparent government and need for candidates to support clear and concise statements, they should fair quite well. And, as long as John McCain continues to garner notable conservatives to his corner as the conservative pundits attack, he may well survive February 5th with a handsome amount of delegates.

We will, of course, see the results in twenty-four hours. But again, it is not necessary the results, but the methods that will display the political candor and expertise in these upcoming months.