Starting Gate: What, Him Worry?

(AP)
For a candidate with a 177 delegate lead in the latest CBS News delegate estimate, Barack Obama can be forgiven for not caring so much about the mere 28 delegates up fro grabs in West Virginia today. Hillary Clinton can't win them all, and even if she could, it wouldn't do anything to improve her nearly nonexistent chances to win the nomination.

But for a campaign already plotting out strategy that would result in winning 270 Electoral Votes in November, ignoring the state altogether may be a small gamble. George W. Bush won West Virginia's 5 Electoral Votes in both 2000 and 2004 but it's a state Bill Clinton carried twice, making it something of a modern-day bellwether.

Obama finds himself in an awkward position today. Trailing big in the polls, his campaign didn't want to engage Clinton directly and end up losing a one-on-one competition when he already has the nomination all but wrapped up. So he'll be turning his attention to general election battleground states like Missouri and Michigan while Clinton takes her victory lap in West Virginia – and likely hangs on for at least one more week, if not through the end of the primaries in June.

Tactically, strategically and rhetorically, Obama is turning toward John McCain and the general election. But his primary realities are forcing him into doing something that runs counter to that goal in blowing off West Virginia. And, if Clinton manages to run up the vote big, it could be enough to pull him back into the primary campaign. If the Obama campaign is at all worried about that, they aren't showing it. They can't afford to.


Dainty Dancing: John McCain may be getting some much-needed distance from President Bush with his focus on climate change this week but he's finding it a little harder to balance out his proposals in a way that would satisfy those whose support he will need. Here's how the Wall Street Journal puts it this morning: "In a last-minute move highlighting the delicacy of climate-change politics, John McCain on Monday decided not to utter a line in a prepared speech suggesting he would as president penalize industrializing countries that refuse to commit to reducing their greenhouse-gas emissions. Instead, Sen. McCain told an audience in Portland, Ore., that he would pursue 'effective diplomacy, effective transfer of technology or other means' to compel reductions by countries that refuse to cap their emissions. An advanced copy of his remarks distributed earlier in the day used tougher language, calling for 'a cost equalization mechanism' to apply to countries that don't enact caps -- a punishment that some say amounts to a tariff."


Morning Yucks: McCain is well known for his edgy sense of humor (he once told a stunningly tasteless joke about Chelsea Clinton in the 1990s), and appearances on the late night comedy shows have become a way for candidates to show their lighter sides. So a healthy dose of laughter might be a bonus for any potential vice presidential selection, right?

Oft-mentioned VP possible Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty flashed some of his brand of levity over the weekend while discussing the opening of fishing season in the state. In an interview with WCCO radio, Pawlenty talked about his wife's love of sports and the outdoors. "I have a wife who genuinely loves to fish," he said. "I mean, she will take the lead and ask me to go out fishing. She loves football, she'll go to hockey games and, I jokingly say: Now, if I could only get her to have sex with me." Pawlenty was quick to add that his comments were "just a joke" and his wife, Mary Pawlenty, could be heard in the background saying, "sorry, my apologies for my husband."
Around The Track

  • Democrats are hoping to continue a winning streak in special House elections that has come to embody their sky-high prospects for November. If Travis Childers wins today's contest in Mississippi's first district, it will be the third time in recent weeks Democrats will have captured a GOP-held seat.

  • The Politico looks at the effect of women who continue to rally around Clinton and note the growing concerns among some Democrats about a gender gap in the fall.

  • Is her debt part of what keeps Clinton going?

  • Both Obama and Bill Clinton will make stops in South Dakota this week.
    • Vaughn Ververs

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