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Daily Digest: The Pugilist Primary

BY Joshua Levy | Wednesday, April 23 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania last night by a 10-point margin, giving her campaign renewed strength and headline writers a chance to toss around more boxing and fighting metaphors. “After Clinton’s win, bruising will go on for Dems,” proclaimed MSNBC. But maybe the pugilist well has run dry. Echoing a time when national politicians shot at each other with guns, the New York Times proclaimed, Clinton Outduels Obama in Primary.” Perhaps this pro-Obama Rocky parody is truer than I thought.

  • The ultimate winner of yesterday’s PA primary may not Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, but John McCain, who benefits the most from this extended Democratic primary season. “This is exactly what I was afraid was going to happen,” Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee told the New York Times’ Adam Nagourney, getting into prizefighter mode. “They are going to just keep standing there and pounding each other and bloodying each other, and no one is winning.” As a result, non-affiliated progressive groups are filling in the gaps. The second TV ad from Progressive Media USA seeks to paint McCain as a big-spending, large-living pol out of touch with common people. The narration — complete with English accent — does a good job of balancing the parodic with the serious.

  • For a boxing-less approach to the campaign beat, check out Off The Bus’ excellent PA coverage, with citizen journalists Mayhill Fowler, Laura J. Mansfield, and the folks from The UpTake, among others, filing up-to-date stories from the, er, battlefield.

  • Shades of Dukakis? Floyd Brown, the infamous conservative activist behind the “Willie Horton” ad that bruised (boxing metaphor intended) Michael Dukakis in 1988, is back. This time, he’s helping produce TV ads and a website devoted to taking down Obama, funding them through a PAC called the National Campaign Fund. The first video weakly tries to link Chicago gang murders in 2001 to Obama’s lack of support for an Illinois death penalty bill (he’s for the death penalty in general, something many liberal supporters might not realize). Time’s Michael Scherer has more on Floyd’s new campaign, calling the link made in the ad “indirect and tenuous.” In the age of the voter-generated videos and attacks, will a Willie Horton-style attack still be effective?

  • Two weeks ago, after new information apparently laid to rest Joe Lieberman’s claim that the staff of 2006 Senatorial opponent Ned Lamont had hacked his site, we moved on. The Stamford Advocate didn’t. In 2006 the FBI conducted an investigation and concluded, in December of that year, that the Lamont campaign was innocent of any hackery. But now the Stamford Advocate’s Brian Lockhart is reporting that Tom Swan, Lamont’s former campaign manager, is alleging that the FBI knew that the Lamont campaign was innocent before the November election, but withheld the information for political reasons. “They acknowledge letting the Lieberman campaign know and never letting anybody from the Lamont (campaign) know,” Swan told Lockhart. A prosecutor says the Lamont campaign never asked for the FBI’s information; the Lamont campaign says the onus shouldn’t be on the accused to ask for such information. And on and on.

  • TechPresident contributor Alan Rosenblatt — otherwise known as Dr. Digipol — will be be interviewed live on Johnny’s Par-tay tonight at 9pm ET. Alan’s a fun and engaging speaker; do show up if you’re online.

The Candidates on the Web

  • Barack Obama is known for giving rallying speeches after primary losses, and his campaign is usually quick to post them on YouTube. But last night the campaign took a different strategy, posting pre-results analysis from NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, in which he performs some complicated calculus showing that a Clinton nomination is very, very unlikely. Wired’s Sarah Lai Stirland points out that this message is intended not only for voters, but for superdelegates as well. “Obama’s campaign seems to be following up on a tactic it used earlier this year to solicit, sway and use public opinion to woo superdelegates,” she writes. But come on, Obama, the public wants a 37-minute-long speech on YouTube!

In Case You Missed It…

The Clinton campaign says it raised $2.5 million online last night in the three hours after the Pennsylvania primary was called, and 80% of that came from new donors, writes Micah Sifry. But the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute reports that she is still way behind Barack Obama in tapping the small-donor gusher online.

While there will be a lot of commentary on who voted for whom in yesterday’s primary, Allison Fine writes that there is another, smaller story worth watching, and that is what happens to the machinery used in voting booths.

In his most recent post, social media expert Stowe Boyd has called out John Edwards’ now-defunct new media operation. The problem, says Fred Stutzman, is that when Edwards left the presidential race, he also vacated most of his impressive social media apparatus.

Alan Rosenblatt has long been a fan of MTV News and its coverage of electoral politics, and he writes that Think MTV’s Street Team ‘08 once again puts MTV News at the leading edge of election news coverage.