Monday, January 21, 2008

Clinton Campaign Hypocritical on Florida Advertising Complaints

So the latest storyline heading into tonight's Democratic debate in South Carolina has to do with another state: Florida. As Ben Smith has outlined at Politico.com, the problem has to do with a national ad campaign Barack Obama began today, with a one-minute ad running on CNN and MSNBC all across the county in all 50-states. That includes the state of Florida, which had its delegates stripped by the Democratic National Committee because it moved its primary up in the calender to January 29. As a result, each of the Democratic candidates have promised not to campaign in Florida, and they have each stayed away except for small fund raising activities.

Well, after learning that Obama's campaign reached all 50-states, which includes Florida, the Clinton campaign hastily got all indignant, held a conference call with reporters denouncing Obama's breaking of the non-campaign pledge, and now say "all options are all the table" involving Florida, including campaigning there.

There's a simple reason why the Clinton campaign is doing this: They lead in Florida because Obama has been unable to campaign there. The national media ignored Michigan (and we'll get to Michigan in a moment) and the Clinton campaign, which seems likely to lose South Carolina this week, would love nothing more than for the national media to treat Hillary Clinton's "victory" in the previously uncontested Florida race as a "momentum booster" going into Super Tuesday on February 5th. They are taking this opportunity to try to convince everyone Florida really is in play, so when they do win on January 29, it gets covered, talked about, and gets Clinton off the mat after her expected South Carolina defeat. Makes sense. Problem is, it's incredibly hypocritical.

First, this is not a Florida ad-buy, it's a national ad-buy. The Obama campaign inquired about excluding Florida from where the ads were run and were told by CNN and MSNBC that it was impossible to do so. Not only that, but they went to the South Carolina's Democratic National Committee representative herself and got permission from the South Carolina DNC Party Chair. If the South Carolina DNC chair had no problem with the ad-buy, why should the Clinton campaign?

Not only that, but their indignation is very peculiar given that as soon as Hillary Clinton "won" Michigan, her campaign sent out an e-mail claiming victory and she has mentioned her victory in Michigan in most press releases and other campaign memos I've seen. Well, Michigan, like Florida, doesn't count, there was no victory there, she picked up no delegates, and not only that, but she wasn't even opposed on the ballot, as Barack Obama and John Edwards, per DNC wishes, took their names off the Michigan ballot after they moved up their primary (the only reason they did not do so in Florida was because Florida law did not allow them to do so). And why is Clinton so upset now over this ad which is running all over the country, not just in Florida, when she herself did not follow the wishes of the DNC by removing her name from the Michigan ballot as the other candidates did. She kept her name on the ballot so she could run up the score in a state where there was no campaign, and she's trying to do the same in Florida.

It may be smart politics, but it's hypocritical, especially given the Clinton campaign's continuing trumpeting of their "win" in Michigan and the Obama campaign needs to come out strongly on this and not let the Clinton campaign, as they have ever since Iowa, win the "spin" war and let this story be covered on their terms.

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