Sen. Evan Bayh endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton Monday after a weekend media blitz that political analysts said widened her lead over her Democratic rivals, giving her what political analysts said was increasingly looking like an insurmountable advantage. Bayh—who sought the party’s nomination himself before dropping out in December—is a former chair of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, and his support is seen as crucial to helping Clinton pick up votes in Republican states.
Clinton sent a message to her rivals Sunday, said Dan Balz in a Washington Post blog. “Catch me if you can.” The former first lady appeared on five interview programs in a single day—looking “poised, polished, knowledgeable”—setting herself apart in a “tier by herself.” The more she can create an “aura of inevitability” around her campaign, the more she shifts the focus from the catch-up game of her rivals for the Democratic nomination, and away from her prospects against a Republican opponent in the general election.
As if we needed proof of the Clinton campaign’s power, said Ben Smith in The Politico, it managed to kill a GQ story about “infighting in Hillaryland” by threatening to cut off access to its “planned celebrity coverboy Bill Clinton.” There’s “nothing unusual” about providing extra access to sympathetic journalists, but the Clintons’ celebrity status gives Hillary unparalelled power to “smother potentially damaging storylines.”
The Clinton campaign is delighted at her front-runner status, said Adam Nagourney in The New York Times. It erases the notion that she is “unelectable.” But what it doesn’t do is ensure that she’ll be the Democratic nominee when the primary process winds down next year. “The truth is, there is no evidence that the Democratic primary voters have fallen head-over-heels for Mrs. Clinton. Her hold on them is solid but certainly not unshakable.”
Some Democrats should be particularly worried about Clinton’s lead, said National Review Online’s The Campaign Spot blog. A poll by the Latino Policy Coalition showed that Hillary turned off voters in the 31 House districts with first-term Democratic incumbents. The 31 freshman House Democrats held leads over generic Republican challengers, but the gap narrowed after respondents were exposed to anti-Hillary questions.
And not all of Clinton’s publicity has been positive recently, said Fredreka Schouten in USA Today. The arrest of Norman Hsu, a major Clinton fundraiser, on old fraud charges led Clinton’s campaign to give back $850,000 to donors linked to Hsu. It also forced Clinton’s campaign to talk about the dirty topic of “fundraising, even as others say little.” As attention focuses on fundraisers like Hsu who bundle donations from many sources, Clinton's association with the scandal won't help her.