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Will a negative ad help Clinton?
Hillary Clinton's negative ad highlighting Barack Obama's bitterness flap marked "an important step" for her campaign, said Douglas E. Schoen in The Washington Post, because as the underdog a "positive message" alone won't work. Mayb
W
hat happened
Hillary Clinton’s campaign this week began airing a TV ad highlighting Barack Obama’s remarks at a San Francisco fundraiser. The ad shows voters in Pennsylvania, which holds its primary Tuesday, saying that they felt insulted when they heard that Obama had said that small-town Pennsylvanians “cling” to “guns or religion” because they don’t feel politicians will help with their economic problems. (The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog, includes video)

What the commentators said
Releasing this ad was “an important step” for Clinton, said Douglas E. Schoen in The Washington Post (free registration). “The ad is a marked change from her recent determination to use a positive message until the Democratic convention, but for Clinton to capture the nomination she needs to completely abandon her positive campaign and continue to hammer away at Obama.” Clinton’s the “underdog” now, and her positive message won’t work unless she can “undermine Obama’s candidacy.”

Clinton may be pushing this angle “too hard,” said Christopher Beam in Slate. The ad, which “showing the good citizens of Pennsylvania expressing how shocked they were to hear Obama calling them bitter,” feels “awfully cardboard” and a bit forced, which could end up costing Clinton in the end. “Voters have a nose for BS, and even if they found Obama's remarks condescending, nothing reeks worse than manufactured outrage.”

Unless, of course, you think racism stinks, said Mary Mitchell in the Chicago Sun-Times. Every time a “disturbing trend” emerges or Clinton starts dipping in the polls, “a racially divisive issue pops up.” Clinton loses 11 consecutive state contests, and “the photograph of Sen. Barack Obama in Somalian garb shows up.” She “gets caught in a lie about her Bosnia adventure, and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. story reignites.” Obama starts catching up in Pennsylvania, and Clinton once again tries to “put an ‘uppity’ black man in his place.”

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