Did Obama Hand The Clintons A Talking Point?

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Mike and I just got off a conference call in which the Clinton high command made its case that today's Florida primary is a legitimate test of the candidates' strength, and that the Florida delegates should ultimately be seated at the Democratic National Convention. (The DNC had unseated the delegates after Florida moved its primary up to today; the candidate's subsequently pledged not to campaign there.)

Based on the number of times Mark Penn and Howard Wolfson invoked Obama's recent national cable ad-buy--which ran in Florida like everywhere else--I wondered if it was a mistake for the Obama campaign to run the ad, at least in from the perspective of Florida. I'm not sure it's going to have much effect on his numbers there (though that probably wasn't the primary, or even secondary or terciary goal), but it does give the Clintons a talking point when the media pounces on them for claiming Florida should count. They can say, as they did in this call, that Obama did make some effort there.

Now I think that's a pretty threadbare claim on the Clintons' part. But at least it's something, whereas they wouldn't have had much to go on without it.

On the other hand, the Obama camp may have decided that the efficiency of a national ad-buy, in terms of targeting voters in all 22 February 5th states, far outweighed any cost terms of post-Florida spin. So it's hard to say this was an egregious decision on their part.

--Noam Scheiber

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