David Burstein '11 and Jon Delano '71 are following this year's presidential election and will have updates throughout the campaign.
The Road to the White House: Democrats on Campus
Jon Delano: Hi David. I know you are an Obama fan, but did Michelle O. meet your expectations on campus today?
David D. Burstein: Hey Jon. I think she did a great job. She spent a lot of time emphasizing their roots and how they are in touch. She is in many ways. She was taking the bitter comments head on.
JD: I interviewed her in Pittsburgh and thought she was actually better than Barack!
JD: She comes across as a bit stronger and certainly a bit more opinionated. He's a politician! Obama certainly stepped into it with his "bitter" rural Pennsylvanians comment. What did she say about it?
DB: She talked about how he was in touch, recent student loan payoffs, how she was raised and how he was raised, etc., emphasizing their connectedness.
JD: Yes, that was his message in Pittsburgh today. Same script, different messenger.
DB: Yeah I think so. It’s a tricky issue.
JD: Obama spoke at Washington & Jefferson College. Very tricky.
DB: Since I think some people are not offended by it and it gets at a real issue, at least the bitter part.
JD: But to link it to guns and religion was not smart. Pennsylvanians love their guns, and it has nothing to do with being bitter about the economy.
JD: And on a political level, it opened up an attack line for Hillary. She is already running TV commercials about this.
DB: Yes she is jumping all over it, since its her only hope and best hope of stealing something back, but I think people don't like the way she is pouncing.
JD: The latest polls suggest she will win PA, but I doubt that she gets any kind of delegate lead out of this.
DB: Yeah, but its also going to be incredibly close. I think he actually has a shot. I saw a 5% margin poll today. Trust polls however you want, but its going to be much closer than shed like.
JD: Well, I've blogged that Obama has a chance, but it's not clear that he is connecting outside the Philly area. I've seen one poll that has him losing in Southwestern PA by two-to-one.
DB: I think odds are still on her winning.
JD: There is a perception that she is campaigning everywhere, and he has not.
DB: But winning by 5 or 6 points is not what she needs.
JD: I agree that a single-digit lead will not give her the delegates she needs, but it does give her bragging rights to stay in the race. Truthfully, after all the primaries and caucuses are over in early June, Obama will still not have the delegates to win the nomination.
DB: The debate tomorrow I think will be very important. Oh, of course, I think there's going to be an informal super delegate caucus right after the last primary to push Obama over the edge.
JD: So neither Obama nor Clinton can win without super delegates. And super delegates are going to think long and hard about who can win in the fall.
The stupid "bitter" comment has given Hillary ammunition to suggest to the supers that Barack is just not ready for prime time.
DB: It has but I don't think it's going to give her the bump she needs.
JD: Probably not.
DB: Since the way she's handled it has seemed much more political, than sympathetic.
JD: I agree. Truth be told, Clinton is much better in person than through TV or ads. In fact, when I sat down with her last week, I was rather blunt with her, saying TV is not kind to you.
DB: And she said?
JD: I agree, and it's a real problem for me. You can watch my 10-minute interview with her (and my interviews with Barack & Michelle Obama) at www.kdka.com/politics. That's my plug!
JD: She said basically that she can't meet every PA resident, so is a bit resigned to the TV image problem.
DB: Yeah, that is a big challenge.
JD: How do you think the Wed. debate will make a difference?
DB: Well I think a lot more people in PA will be watching so all sorts of new voters will be exposed to them.
DB: Some to Obama maybe for the first time and I think the tenor between them will be key. People don't want to see Hillary rabid on him.
JD: I am coming to Philadelphia for that debate, so ask me later what I think.
DB: I think how he addresses the bitter comment will be important. I will be there.
JD: I think Hillary will be reserved.
DB: I got a ticket!
JD: Great. Meet me in "spin alley" and I'll put you in TV.
DB: Sounds good, but 21st debate.
JD: I agree that Hillary needs to be careful, but Obama needs to be apologetic and then move on.
DB: But in the end either one of them needs to do something really big in order for the debate to have a huge impact.
JD: I agree, and I don't see it happening since both are so skilled. Obama's misspeaking was at a private fundraiser in San Francisco where media was barred. Of course, he should have known someone would tape his remarks.
DB: It was actually a reporter, they let one reporter in and she sat on it for a few days agonizing over it before posting it.
JD: Big mistake then. Was that the Huffington Post?
DB: I’ll have to abstain since I write for them.
JD: Hahhahaha, a man with ethics! How Haverfordian! Of course, if the reporter was admitted under the ground rules of no reporting, then she violated her ethics. But you can keep your mouth shut.
DB: He's still got some things to learn but everyone misspeaks and that’s how news gets made.
JD: Final question, David.
JD: Do you see any movement among younger voters to cast a ballot next Tuesday? Or is this just all talk and no action?
DB: I really do. Young people are excited and energized…huge rise in reg numbers and I think a lot of that is young people, and we've had a lot of access.
JD: Would you care to wager what percent of the electorate the under-25 crowd will be?
DB: There have been so many candidate and surrogate visits. I put out a statement today saying it will triple from the last election.
JD: But the overall vote might triple, or at least double.
DB: I think that’s possible as well.
JD: I still think the under-25 vote will be a single digit percentage of all Pennsylvanians who vote.
DB: I have to disagree.
DB: I think it will be at least 10 or 15, probably more. We're really ready for this.
JD: Well, I hope you're right, but I am a skeptic.
DB: We'll see in a few short days.
JD: You bet. Let's conclude on this note, and promise to do this over the weekend in the final days of this campaign.
DB: Absolutely, and I will see you tomorrow.
JD: See you at the debate, David!
DB: Take care.