Starting Gate: Time Is Not On Her Side

After Hillary Clinton squeaked out must-wins in Ohio and Texas earlier this month, it appeared to provide some much-needed breathing room for a candidate on the ropes. Just two minor contests then remained before a six-week stretch of nothingness. There was plenty of time for Democratic voters in the remaining states, and those all-important superdelegates, to get over their Obama-mania and reconsider the risks of anointing the young upstart with the nomination.

For a time, it seemed that the "vetting" process the Clinton campaign had claimed was lacking for Barack Obama was beginning to kick in. The controversy surrounding Obama's former pastor and his ensuing speech on race began just the sort of party introspection Clinton's camp has long hinted would eventually sink his candidacy. Then came the sniper fire.

For a candidate pushing experience and "no surprises," the episode has been damaging to her entire rationale for getting those superdelegates to throw their weight behind her. Within two days time, the worm had turned and those clips of Rev. Jeremiah Wright shouting "God damn America" have been replaced with those of Clinton's arrival in Bosnia sans the bullets flying around her as she claimed.

Thus it wasn't much of a surprise when Clinton chose yesterday to weigh in for the first time on the Wright stuff. "He would not have been my pastor," Clinton said in response to a question asked during a meeting with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorial board. Clinton repeated her comments about Wright in a news conference later in the day, making the point that one cannot choose their family members but can choose their pastors.

"It's disappointing to see Hillary Clinton's campaign sink to this low in a transparent effort to distract attention away from the story she made up about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia," responded the Obama campaign to her comments. Clinton said she was responding to a direct question about Wright but she could certainly have chosen not to do so.

Every day spent talking about Rev. Wright, race or any other even slightly controversial subject involving Barack Obama is a good day for Clinton. Every day spent talking about her embellished wartime adventures is a very bad one. Every week spent split between the two only erodes her already long odds at winning the nomination. So far in this campaign lull, time has not been the ally Clinton once hoped it would.

One Hundred Years … Of Friendship? After spending a couple of weeks being hammered by Democrats for suggesting that the U.S. will remain in Iraq for 100 years if that's what it takes to win the war there under his leadership, John McCain will strike a more conciliatory note in a foreign policy address today in California.

"The United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone," McCain will say according to prepared remarks released by his campaign. "If we lead by shouldering our international responsibilities and pointing the way to a better and safer future for humanity ... it will strengthen us to confront the transcendent challenge of our time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism." McCain looks to avoid the go-it-alone approach for which the Bush administration has bee criticized for. "Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed," he will say. "We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies."

The NFL Bows To McCain Moment? The NFL is considering moving up its season-opening game in order to avoid a conflict with John McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, according to one report. Because of the jockeying over convention scheduling, McCain will formally receive his party's nomination on September 4th, the same day the NFL kicks off its season with a now-traditional Thursday night game. Rather than the normal 8:30 eastern time for the start of the game the league is considering an earlier start so that the game would be over before McCain delivers his speech.

Around The Track

  • After already cancelling an appearance at a Tampa church this week, Rev. Jeremiah Wright has cancelled plans to speak at three services for a Houston-area church this weekend, citing security concerns.
  • Indiana student Evan Strange, who was rebuked by Chelsea Clinton yesterday after asking her a question about Monica Lewinsky, told the "Early Show" he is a Clinton supporter. "I was very surprised," Strange said about the response. "I can see where she'd get a little defensive because of the question and hearing Lewinsky over and over again, but I would like to hear her say something about Hillary rather than dismissing the question."
  • 1972 Democratic nominee George McGovern, a Clinton supporter, tells the AP he's not sure the country is ready to elect a women president. ""I have a feeling that in this country where we're at today in our thinking, it's going to be harder to elect a woman than to elect a black man. … I wish that weren't true ... I'd love to see Hillary as president."
  • In case you're wondering, the Democratic race looks to have officially lost one more candidate from the field. Mike Gravel is becoming a member of the Libertarian Party, according to the Top of The Ticket blog.