Both Parties Now Ignoring McCain

Barack Obama, with his 10-year-old daughter Malia, carries gifts after visiting his grandmother in Honolulu. (It's how the stars vacation.)
Barack Obama, with his 10-year-old daughter Malia, carries gifts after visiting his grandmother in Honolulu. (It's how the stars vacation.) (By Alex Brandon -- Associated Press)
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By Al Kamen
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The presidential campaign strategies these days are clear. For the Democrats, it's time to stop the bickering and rally round Barack Obama, who dominates the Democratic National Committee's Web site.

On the Republican National Committee site, it's all Obama, all the time, boosting the campaign's "celebrity" theme, which appears to be gaining some traction. Recent polls showed that the public is tiring of hearing about the once-new-and-fresh young Democratic candidate. At the same time, the GOP is pounding Obama as just Hollywood, an empty suit, no experience, and who is he anyway?

The two Web sites at first glance seem almost interchangeable. In fact, it was hard to find a mention of John McCain on either of them. Obama dominates both sites pretty much equally, though the GOP site also has some prominent blasts at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. There are no featured shots at the Democrats' Senate leader, the guy from out West, what's-his-name . . .

Obama has virtually dropped out of sight, retreating to Hawaii, leaving it to McCain to boost his celebrity status. At the same time, Obama's absence might have given McCain the field to himself maybe to pick up some ground, command the stage for a bit before the conventions.

But it wasn't to be. First came Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and the Redeem Team. Then came the wonderful, lying John Edwards and the Love Child. Then Bush's pal and soul mate, former KGB thug Vladimir Putin, decided to go for a little revenge on Bush and NATO by smacking around the upstart and powerless Georgians.

And while there was news yesterday that the Russians had backed off in Georgia, that will just leave more time to focus on the track and field events and the ongoing Edwards story.

Iowa Recount

Speaking of Edwards, former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman Howard Wolfson made a splash telling ABC News that had the Edwards scandal come out before January's Iowa caucuses, Clinton would now be the nominee.

Wolfson's speculated that "maybe two-thirds" of the Edwards voters would have voted for Clinton, who came in third after Obama and Edwards.

A fine theory, except that it conflicts with the networks' polling data at the time, our pollster Jon Cohen notes on

Cohen writes: "In the networks' Iowa entrance poll, 43 percent of those who went to a caucus to support Edwards said Obama was their second choice. Far fewer, 24 percent, said they would support Clinton if their top choice did not garner enough votes at that location." The rest preferred others, had no second choice or were uncommitted.

So what? The undisputed fact remains that if Obama and the other candidates hadn't run, Clinton almost certainly would have won the nomination.

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