COUNTDOWN

COUNTDOWN

By Chris Cillizza And Shailagh Murray
Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rangel Unswayed

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), one of the earliest advocates of Hillary Rodham Clinton's political ambitions, acknowledged in an interview with The Fix late last week that Clinton must overcome negative national perceptions about her candidacy to win his party's presidential nomination -- but he expressed unwavering confidence in her ability to do so.

"Once there is a national perception of a person, whether they're too commander in chief or less personal, did she cry and did she mean it, these are things that you have to overcome," Rangel said. Despite that potential hurdle, he said he "could not possibly recommend any personality change, based on how effective [Clinton] has been in the state of New York."

He added that "there are just certain people -- no matter what they say, they are going to be disliked and, on a more positive note, there are people saying absolutely nothing, they are loved . . . and everyone likes them."

He said that comment was not meant as a slap at Obama, whom he praised as "one of the most talented Americans we have on the scene." Clinton and her supporters have argued that it is more important that the next president have the practical experience needed to run the government than to be an inspirational speaker, as Obama is.

Rangel predicted that Feb. 5 -- when 22 states, including New York, will cast ballots -- will signal the de facto end of the Democratic nomination fight. "When we speak, the election is over," he said.

One Day: The Democratic presidential candidates gather for a CNN-sponsored debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C. It is their only joint appearance before the state's Jan. 26 primary.

Six Days: Students at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., will hold a mock Democratic convention. It's the 100th anniversary of the event, and in the past 60 years the students have missed picking the eventual nominee just once.


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