ALLENTOWN– Barack Obama may fall head first into the gap between national polls, and the results of the April 22 Pennsylvania primary. A new Gallup poll has him extending his national lead over Hillary Clinton to 10 points – his largest this year. But polls in the Keystone state have him behind by double-digits.
The Clinton camp is focusing on the “beer-track” voters in the state today. In Harrisburg, Clinton unveiled a set of economic policies that are likely to be popular with these voters, including a 30 percent interest rate cap on credit cards.
Obama is doing Town-Hall style events in eastern Pennsylvania today as part of his “Road to Change” tour. This morning Obama drew over 2,000 in Lancaster at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. He is delivering variations of his stump speech and incorporating more lines on the economy then I remember him using in New Hampshire or South Carolina. “We can’t wait to bring back good jobs and wages. We can’t wait for a sensible energy policy, ” he told the small but enthusiastic crowd.
Though the national media seems to be calling the primary contest for Obama, Pennsylvania presents him with even more difficult electoral challenges then he faced in Ohio. A double-digit loss in this state will not eliminate his lead in delegates over Clinton but his lead in the popular vote will shrivel. The media will ask questions that Democrat super-delegates are surely asking themselves in private: if Obama has this much trouble in Ohio and Pennsylvania (and presumably Michigan) how does he win the general election? A double-digit loss will also justify the continuation of the Clinton campaign — at least until Obama defeats her by a similar margin in North Carolina.
As the Obama Town-hall event here at Muhlenberg continues, I’ll update this post below the jump. I hope to catch Hillary Clinton tonight in Fairless Hills, PA – but if Obama is as tardy as he usually is, I’ll be late for that. Also if I can find an SD card reader in between here and there, I will upload some amateur photos from the event.
4:44 According to ESPN, Johan Santana threw his first pitch as a New York Met for a strike. Then he struck out Hanley Ramriez looking. I resent the fact that the Democrats prevented me from watching my Metropolitains on opening day.
More updates to come…
5:02 The audience and I will have to wait for another 45 minutes or so for Barack. Apparently we aren’t the ones we’ve been waiting for. But at least the campaign keeps playing, “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder.
6:02 An hour later, we are still waiting and the crowd is generating its own chants of “O-ba-ma!” and “Yes we can!” And they even once managed to do “the wave” around Memorial Hall – a welcome touch of dorkiness.
In real news, the Mets are winning 6-2 in the bottom of the 6th. Happy Opening Day.
7:08 It’s the economy! Obama has dedicated over half his speech to the economy. He explains the relationship between the credit crisis and the high foreclosure rates in a way that the audience understands. He wants the minimum wage to be tied to inflation because “no one working in this country should be poor.” Like Mike Huckabee he wants us to have “health care, not disease care.” And like Mike Huckabee he says, “I believe in free trade, but free trade has to be fair,” saying we need to have safety and environmental standards in our trade deals.
I’d like just one candidate to explain how these standards can be enforced.
His biggest applause line is still: “George Bush’s name will not be on the ballot this November!”
7:18 Referring to the long length of the Iraq War (longer than WWI, WWII and the Civil War), and the length of time certain candidates want to stay there, Obama succinctly captures the war-fatigue among voters: “At some point the American people have to say, ‘Enough we have responsibilities in other parts of the world. And we have responsibilities at home’ ” This is a powerful line.
Obama easily segues into a riff on John McCain, who he calls “an American hero, whose patriotism I will not challenge.” Obama says, “He is clinging to the policies of the past, we need to be the party of the future.”
His gracious attitude works well. But how long can you say: I revere this American hero, who is also a dangerous warmonger?
I am now officially late for the Hillary Clinton event. I will have to see her in Wilkes Barre tomorrow.