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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Course of Action

Here's another excellent piece by Michael Lipkin, a frequent contributor to The Richardson Campus.


I just finished reading Alex’s excellent summary of the last debate in Iowa and it reminded me how as we inch closer and closer to the primary, the impressions the candidates give become increasingly vital. The spin Edward’s campaign has been giving for the past few months is nowhere near as crucial as the message it sends out next week. And that means that as the days before January 3, float by, it becomes more difficult to respin an image. The campaigns become stuck, at a certain point, with the public image they’ve got.

Given that, you may begin to worry about the Des Moines Register throwing their supposedly hefty hat into Hilary’s ring in addition to her substantial lead in the polls over all candidates whose name does not begin with O. But things may be looking up for our favorite governor.

This week’s Economist writes that Clinton’s campaign is becoming less and less inevitable as we get closer to the primary. “The cracks”, as the magazine termed them, in Clinton’s “armor” include overusing and –estimating her husband’s political power, her poor debate showings—given how much she touted her fighting prowess—and her ludicrous use of Obama’s kindergarten papers. More and more people are discarding their opinion of her as a safe bet to win the nomination.

Granted the piece ties this dip in Clinton’s inevitability to Obama’s recent surge, especially with Oprah backing him (O² anyone? Anyone?), but I think this is good news for Richardson too.

The way I see it, Richardson’s plan for the next few weeks is to build enough momentum to launch himself into one of the top three spots—realistically speaking, the third. I’m not entirely sure why the top three is that much more important than the top four in our modern consciousness, but that’s the way it is. People love to ponder over the top three anything and news organizations love to discuss the top candidates. If Richardson is able to pull that far ahead in the race, the new attention he would get might be enough to win outright some states.

For a long time this seemed, to me at least, to be a pipe dream. With single digit polls this close to the end of the race, how could he possibly pull it together? But a lot of things have changed recently, and these changes have become more and more pronounced. Clinton, Obama and Edwards have become extremely close in the race and Richardson’s popularity has increased noticeably. If you’ve been checking out other political blogs and newspapers, Richardson is getting more mentions than ever, and not just as someone to turn to when they need a generic “second-tier” quote. This last piece about Clinton only further cements in my mind that she is bound to fall from the top spot, and that would provide an opportunity for the Democrats to reshuffle the standings.

Rooting for a dark horse candidate is never easy. It’s a lot of nail biting and a lot of hoping. But when good news like this comes along, some celebration, in equal measure with rededication to the task at hand, is in order.

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