One thing that never became clear during my Hillary reporting was where in the heck Harold Ickes fit into all this. He was supposedly the one with all the expertise on the map and the nominating process. (He did, after all, help write the rules.) He was in charge of the budget (along with Patti Solis Doyle) and so had a pretty good idea of where money was being spent and on what. His dismay over Penn's lack of knowledge of the process has been colorfully reported. So what was the problem?
On MSNBC John Harwood just asked Harold Ickes how Hillary's gas tax gimmick (my word not his) "is playing with your real audience, the superdelegates." I've heard this line before: That the gas tax holiday isn't just bad policy, it's bad politics insofar as superdelegates see it as a cynical pander that turns them off to Hillary. Maybe. But at the end of the day, I think Hillary's goal, when it comes to winning that improbable supermajority of undelcared superdelegates, is simple: She needs to convince them that she is more electable than Obama.
Chris has an excellent post up about the Clinton campaign's dwelling on how pledged delegates aren't locked into a particular candidate. I'd just add one thing: The person responsible for this procedural quirk is none other than Harold Ickes, the wily Clinton operative currently overseeing her delegate-whipping effort. Pledged delegates actually were bound to their candidate through the 1980 campaign.
Harold Ickes is the son of another Harold Ickes, born in 1874 and FDR's Secretary of the Interior for 13 years, actually 12 plus one under Harry Truman. The present Ickes, Hillary Clinton's major domo, was a child of old age. I met him during the 1968 McCarthy campaign when he (and Sara Kovner) ran the McCarthy effort in New York. Harold actually has some charm if, that is, you're not offended by offensive language. Which I am not.After the disastrous Chicago convention in 1968, some Democrats realized that the nominating process demanded change.
Ickes: “Mark Penn has run this campaign,” said Ickes in a brief phone interview this morning. “Besides Hillary Clinton, he is the single most responsible person for this campaign."... “I have been at meetings where he introduces himself as the campaign’s chief strategist. I’ve heard him call himself that many times, say, ‘I am the chief strategist.’” Asked if Penn preferred the title of chief strategist to pollster, Ickes said, “Prefer it?
In a group I sang with in college, we had a catchphrase: "Walk off the stage." It could be a protest -- "If you make me beatbox on 'Shadowland' from The Lion King one more time, I'll walk off the stage" -- but also a demand that a singer recognize he is messing up so much he's ruining the show.
More on that Clinton call Noam mentions below: Harold Ickes argued in favor of seating the Florida delegations based on the January 29 vote there. But in response to a reporter's question, he was forced to admit that, as a DNC rules committee member last year.
Two days after the New Hampshire primary, John Kerry climbed onto a dais in Charleston, South Carolina, and endorsed Barack Obama. “We need...leaders who look out at America and see not an electorate to be sliced and diced and pitted against each other, but citizens who want to do great things together,” Kerry said. At first, it sounded like a shot at George Bush and Karl Rove. But, the longer he went on, the more Kerry seemed to have another polarizing duo in mind--Bill and Hillary Clinton.
TPM: In a sign that the spin war over the significance of super-delegates is underway in earnest, Harold Ickes told assorted Hillary supporters on a private conference call yesterday that the campaign wants them to start referring to super-delegates as "automatic delegates," according to someone on the call. The person I spoke to paraphrases Ickes, who is spearheading Hillary's super-delegate hunt, this way: "We're no longer using the phrase super delegates. It creates a wrong impression. They're called automatic delegates.
HOURS AFTER Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as House speaker last week, Democratic Representative Rahm Emanuel held a celebratoryreception at Johnny's Half Shell, an upscale Capitol Hill restaurant. Having just overseen his party's victorious campaign aschairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Emanuel resembled a mafia don who had taken down a rival family andwas now receiving visitors (Harold Ickes, Paul Begala, James Carville) to kiss his ring. Filing into the restaurant along with the giddy Democrats, however, was a crowd with markedly longer faces.