Barack Obama continued to gain on Hillary Clinton in the polls, pulling into a dead heat with the Democratic front-runner in New Hampshire and ratcheting up the tension ahead of the final debate before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. (The Boston Globe, free registration) Clinton’s campaign is in turmoil as advisers scramble to regain momentum. (Newsday)
What the commentators said
The Clintonistas are clearly worried that “their coronation has turned into something a little more complicated,” said Andrew Sullivan in his blog at TheAtlantic.com. There’s no other explanation for the news that a “Clinton surrogate is flaying Obama for his refreshing candor about past drug use.” The Clinton aide invoked the “politics of fear” by wondering aloud whether Obama’s remarks would open him up to GOP attacks.
The Hillary camp has disavowed the remarks, said Greg Sargent in Talking Points Memo’s Election Central blog. And the man who made them—Clinton’s New Hampshire co-chairman, Billy Shaheen—said he wasn’t speaking for the campaign, but the damage was done.
The Clinton campaign has a history of dropping bombshells that turn out to be duds, said Robert Novak in the Chicago Sun-Times. Earlier this month, Clinton’s spokesman accused Obama of having a “slush fund,” but the claim just did not measure up to claims of dark improprieties” on Obama’s part. “The attack strategy has not affected Obama, and Clinton's aura of inevitability is fading.”
Oddly enough, Rudy Giuliani may be as threatened by Clinton’s slide as she is, said Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin in The Politico. Giuliani is trying to rally GOP loyalists behind him by telling them that he “alone among the Republicans could beat Clinton.” Now that she’s no longer a “sure thing,” GOP voters might decide they don’t need Rudy as much as he says they do.