Hillary Clinton salvaged her campaign by winning Texas and Ohio and that enabled her to survive long enough to make Pennsylvania relevant. Her strategy in winning the two earlier states is coming home to roost however as the issues raised in her campaign are coming apart at the seams. Clinton won Ohio by stating she was against NAFTA and she won Texas with her 3 am telephone call commercial. She seems to have padded her resume by saying she had to fly into Bosnia under sniper fire and went because it was too dangerous for her husband. So he sent his wife and daughter instead???
The Bosnia story was necessary to defend herself against charges nothing she'd done as First Lady really qualified her to be readier than her opponent to take that 3 am red phone call. It's all unraveling now as the focus of this campaign shifts from Rev. Wright to NAFTA and Bosnia. Ahh, the swings of Big Mo on the campaign trail are endless.
Let's begin with the NAFTA argument. Hillary is claiming she fought NAFTA when she was First Lady. Her husband, the President, was a strong supporter of the ill fated trade agreement and pushed it through Congress. This trade policy has cost millions of jobs and states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania were extremely hard hit. Our jobs went to Mexico and thousands of middle class incomes soon followed.
Hillary's support in Pennsylvania is rooted in all the river towns. The Commonwealth, when you think about it, is defined by its rivers. Almost all the towns and cities are along the Delaware, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Ohio, Monongahela, Columbia, and others. These were old style mill towns built around factories. What is now called the Rust Belt. Very union, very labor oriented communities where workers unionized in groups like the Molly Maguires to fight for themselves.
These should be Hillary Clinton voters. Should be, and are, unless NAFTA convinces them she was part and parcel of the destruction of their river towns and the jobs they once had instead of their new ones driving trucks, greeting customers at Wal-Mart or flipping burgers. This is Barack Obama's opportunity and he is seizing upon it.
A leader of the International Transport Workers Union (sorry I missed his name) was on an Obama media call this week stating he worked hard against NAFTA around Capital Hill and knew Mrs. Clinton was working equally hard for it. Now people lobbying always know who their opposition is, who is working the other argument. I have no doubt he is telling the truth. Everyone who followed that debate knew how hard the Clintons were pushing this trade bill. Ross Perot made his opposition to NAFTA the central tenet of his presidential campaign in 1992.
The Clinton campaign continues insisting Hillary opposed NAFTA. Her First Lady schedules, however, paint a contrary picture. They show she hosted several meetings about it and health care. They are claiming she was pushing healthcare over NAFTA. Those who attended these meetings have a different recollection. Hmmmm.
Now we get to the issue of the 3 am red phone crisis call. After the release of this ad Sen. Clinton was asked for specific instances where her experience in the White House qualifies her to accept that call over Sen. Obama. She began using a tale about her trip to Bosnia in 1996. She claims she and Chelsea went there because it was too dangerous for the President. She claimed they landed amid sniper fire and had to run and duck into an airport terminal for safety.
This story was completely debunked yesterday by the contemporaneous press reports and pictures of the event. This picture is of the greeting ceremony where Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea are warmly greeted by eight year old Emina Bicakcic on the tarmac. None of the reporters along on the trip recalls any danger nor wrote about any danger to the First Lady.
Now both of the arguments Senator Clinton used to win Ohio and Texas have blown up in her face. Both have been substantially rebuked and debunked. Her chickens have come home to roost, one might say (though not Rev. Wright, I'm sure.) Will Pennsylvania be her Waterloo, the end of the line for her campaign?
Clinton is running out of field as the Obama staff puts it. With no revotes likely in Florida and Michigan she must win here convincingly. She must play to two critical audiences: Pennsylvania Democrats and the undecided super delegates. She must win both and win both by convincing margins to remain in the race. April 22nd is her rendezvous at Waterloo. It's a shame we aren't in Iowa, Waterloo, Iowa to be specific.
How will Hillary overcome these double blows to her credibility? How will she keep her lead in the Keystone state if those laborers in all our river towns abandon her on these two issues? This will be interesting. It's going to be a wild raft ride down the river with many a winding turn and no idea where the falls and polls sit ready to capsize either campaign. Hold on and keep your life jacket tight. Waterloo may be the final destination.
Update: Here is a news video of Hillary's Bosnia trip.