Democratic strategist Joe Trippi boded ill for the chances of a Democratic presidential nominee in the general election should the acrimony between the campaigns of frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton continue beyond Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary.
"John McCain has got to be, right now, laughing and enjoying this," Trippi told CBS Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer, "and the Republicans, too, because you are seeing these negatives go up with both candidates. Nobody can dispute that, on either side. And that isn't good, if this continues."
Trippi slammed the attacks as "silly": "You know, 'Hillary Clinton doesn't deserve to be laying a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier' - it's ridiculous that it's getting this mean."
However, Roger Simon of Politico was more optimistic about the party's ability to join together after such a divisive contest: "There will be a 'Wow!' period after the Democratic convention, where Democrats and some independents and even some Republicans say, 'Wow, we just nominated the first African-American,' or, 'Wow, we just nominated the first woman; this is really historic.' And that is really going to pump up the Democratic Party. So it's not quite as bleak a picture as it may look.
"I agree with Joe that it's gotten out of hand in negativity," Simon said, "but they're going to get a little honeymoon after their convention is over."
Earlier in the program, two key Democratic figures from Pennsylvania - Governor Ed Rendell, a supporter of Clinton, and Sen. Bob Casey, a supporter of Obama - discussed what it would take for a nominee to be decided before the convention in Denver, and what it would take to lead Hillary Clinton - who is currently behind in the popular vote and pledged delegate counts - to withdraw from the race.
Rendell pointed to money the Obama campaign was spending in Pennsylvania, including $2.9 million in TV ad buys in Philadelphia last week, an amount Rendell termed "almost obscene." Rendell said the effect of the advertising will be to overcome what he called a "subpar" debate performance by Obama earlier this week … "and a great performance by Senator Clinton."
Casey, however, believed that Obama's performance in the state - and the public's reaction to him - will benefit him in the long run.
"I'm not a pollster or a pundit," Casey said, "but I do think, just from being on the road with him as much as I have, day after day, the way he's been able to connect with people, he's felt the heart and soul of the people of Pennsylvania.
"We were up in Erie on Friday, and the very last question in the town hall meeting was from a disabled veteran. He didn't have a microphone available, so Senator Obama went off the stage, handed him his microphone. And all this veteran said to him was, 'Thank you for running. I want to thank you and your wife and your daughters for enduring the campaign.' It was a wonderful moment, and spoke to the best of Pennsylvania, from an American hero, as our veterans are. But it also, I think, gives Senator Obama and his supporters a good sense that the people of Pennsylvania have responded well to his message of hope."
Rendell, likewise, believes the Democrats are in a good position to win Pennsylvania in November. "Don't worry about general election polls in April; worry about general election polls in late September and October. And I think whoever our candidate is, you're going to find, at least in Pennsylvania, the Democratic Party united as one. We're going to go out roaring. Talk to the American people about what has happened in the last eight years and our hopes and our solutions, and either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton can carry the day here in Pennsylvania and nationally."
Read the full "Face the Nation" transcript here.