Both the Clinton and Obama camps are gearing up for the primary in North Carolina, where “both campaigns have hired competing – and formidable – California political operatives to go mano a mano in a contest for 115 crucial delegates.”
The Clinton camp has sent in “Averell “Ace” Smith, the tough-as-nails former opposition researcher who managed the New York senator’s winning campaigns in California and Texas.” The latest Tarheel State polls shows Obama up by 8 to 10 points. Smith is optimistic:
“There’s no question that North Carolina is an uphill battle for us, but we intend to win here,” Smith said Monday from North Carolina. “We’re looking to score an upset.”
I wrote about the techniques used by Ace Smith here in California in a post last month:
Ace was working a game in California that “no one has ever done.” As a matter of fact, “last Sunday, on the same day Sen. Barack Obama marshaled glitzy supporters like Oprah Winfrey, Maria Shriver and Caroline Kennedy to rev up a UCLA crowd for a surge to victory in California, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton quietly enlisted a far less glamorous team to reach voters in the nation’s most populous state.” And reach they did. Under the direction of Ace Smith, “a statewide army of volunteers with cell phones dialing furiously for voters.”
Ace Smith’s Texas team was also “credited with helping Clinton win the popular vote in the Lone Star State primary,” however there is still a “battle over the outcome of the so-called “Texas Two-Step” caucuses.”
Clinton’s camp is also pursuing what it says are some 2,300 documented complaints received from voters in more than 8,000 precincts regarding alleged irregularities and disenfranchisement – which included shutting voters out and illegally controlling caucuses; those challenges will be examined on a county-by-county basis before credential committees in Texas, which will decide their validity by March 26.
Time will tell whether Ace will pull off another victory for Hillary. I’m betting he just might.
And speaking of North Carolina, the endorsement rumor mill is hard at work once again with claims that John Edwards will soon endorse Hillary Clinton.
John Edwards. Senator John Edwards — remember him? — who’s been conspicuously silent since he dropped out of the race, will endorse a Democratic candidate probably before North Carolina, certainly before North Carolina, possible before Pennsylvania. And our own Mark Halpern [sic] on the page [sic] says it’s going to be Senator Hillary Clinton.
[…] If John Edwards openly endorses Hillary Clinton, what could it mean to the nomination race? For starters, it would surprise a lot of Edwards supporters. Most of the unions backing Edwards have moved into the Obama camp, and they may be disappointed by Edwards going the other direction. However, one of Edwards’ core constituencies of support was among white men — who are now firmly in the Clinton camp (if exit polls are to be believed). So while either endorsement from Edwards is going to please some of his supporters and annoy some others, it’s not outside the bounds of possibility that he would back Hillary, and influence voters as a result.
Marc Ambinder notes on the Edwards rumor:
But it’s true that Edwards has never believed that Obama is ready to be president.
Edwards advisers, including several who had spoken with him recently, were skeptical that Edwards was on the verge of endorsing anyone.
Stay tuned… And Edwards endorsement of Hillary Clinton could cut into Obama’s lead in North Carolina, no doubt and with Obama laboring to do damage control in the wake of Pastor-Gate, anything can happen.