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Next on Agenda Is Clinton’s Role

(2008-06-04 18:10:01)


分类: 英文
 News Analysis

Next on Agenda Is Clinton’s Role

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, on Tuesday in St. Paul, watching Hillary Rodham Clinton’s speech on television.

Senator Barack Obama heads into the general election with obvious advantages: He is a Democratic candidate running in a sour atmosphere for Republicans, in a contest where voters are hungry for change and coming out of a campaign in which he filled arena after arena with supporters.

Yet while he would like to shift his attention fully to the onslaught already coming from Senator John McCain and the Republicans, Mr. Obama still has problems in his own party that may overshadow everything else until he addresses them: How to repair relations with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her supporters and whether to offer her a spot on the ticket.

Mrs. Clinton used her final hours of the long primary season to make clear that she would be open to being Mr. Obama’s running mate. If there was ever any hope in Democratic circles that she would let Mr. Obama off the hook with an evasion or a flat declaration of no interest, Mrs. Clinton dashed it on Tuesday.

Like her husband, Mrs. Clinton has a way of becoming the center of attention even when the spotlight is supposed to be trained elsewhere, a reality that Mr. Obama will no doubt continue to confront no matter how he proceeds. It was hardly a surprise that Mr. Obama lavished praise on Mrs. Clinton and her accomplishments in his remarks Tuesday night.

Until he deals with the Clinton question, it could be hard for Mr. Obama to move on to what he would like to achieve next: presenting himself to the entire electorate and not just Democrats, laying out his political ideology before Mr. McCain does it on his terms and trying to rectify some of the weaknesses highlighted by the combative primary process.

Beyond that, there are other questions. Can he survive an onslaught from a Republican machine that has proved adept over the past 20 years at discrediting Democratic candidates, particularly those with limited experience in running national campaigns? Is he, given his voting record, vulnerable to the kind of attacks Mr. McCain began Tuesday night as he sought to portray Mr. Obama as out of touch with much of the country on issues like taxes, government and threats to American security?

Much of the cautious optimism in the Obama campaign is based on the expectation that this is a turn-the-page election, that deep anger with President Bush, along with discontent over the war in Iraq and the economy will be channeled into a Democratic victory in November. But it is not yet clear that those substantive issues will fully trump cultural issues and values — like race, patriotism and class — or the question of whether voters will judge Mr. Obama, just a few years out of the Illinois legislature, to have the experience necessary to sit in the Oval Office.

There would be obvious advantages to an Obama-Clinton ticket. For one, it would go far toward healing wounded feelings among Mrs. Clinton’s supporters, especially women. Some of those supporters have suggested that they would either stay home or vote for Mr. McCain, who made an explicit appeal for their support Tuesday night as he tried to increase pressure on Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton would provide Mr. Obama with some of the foreign policy credentials he needs, bring her own bank of contributors and probably help put more states in play.

“I think the world of both of them,” said Senator Thomas R. Carper, Democrat of Delaware. “I want to see them run as a team.”

Yet there is clear, if not publicly expressed, apprehension in Mr. Obama’s circle about the wisdom of asking her to join the ticket. After gaining so much attention by campaigning on a promise of bringing fresh faces to Washington, Mr. Obama would be asking voters to put another Clinton in the White House, though in the No. 2 spot.

Mrs. Clinton does not come alone; beyond her own history — and the legions of voters who do not like her — she would bring along former President Bill Clinton, whose baggage might well be judged by Mr. Obama to outweigh his political skills, especially after a primary season that left Mr. Clinton’s reputation dented.

And running for president is very much about presenting command and authority. A crucial rule in the vice-presidential selection process is to avoid the perception of being pressured into a decision by a potential running mate.

“It’s backward looking to pick a Clinton at this point — and he’s all about forward looking, to being about change,” said Matt Bennett, a co-founder of Third Way, a moderate Democratic organization. “He’s all about a fundamentally new kind of politics. Picking a Clinton is by definition backward looking, and I just don’t think he wants that.”

What is more, some Democrats argued that rather than producing a ticket that would be bigger than the sum of its parts, it might have the opposite effect by pushing away both the groups of voters who are reluctant to vote for an African-American and those who are reluctant to vote for a woman.

Throughout the campaign, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama had a relationship that veered between strained and strange. Mr. Obama once referred to her during a debate as “likable enough,” while Mrs. Clinton at one point said she and Mr. McCain could offer voters “a lifetime of experience” while Mr. Obama “will put forth a speech he made in 2002,” a reference to the address in Chicago before he was elected to the Senate in which he came out against the Iraq war.

Inevitably, as the campaign continued, relations between the two sides got worse — exacerbated by Mrs. Clinton’s unwavering insistence that she would be the stronger candidate against Mr. McCain; some of Mr. Clinton’s remarks, like his characterization of Mr. Obama’s strong and consistent opposition to the war as a “fairy tale”; and impatience among Mr. Obama’s supporters with Mrs. Clinton’s decision to stay in the race to the end.

Mrs. Clinton’s actions on Tuesday could not have raised her stock with Mr. Obama. Whether she intended to or not, her remarks pulled the spotlight away from him, reminding him that in many ways, she is a character that is hard to push off the stage










  特拉华州民主党、参议员卡帕(Thomas R. Carper)表示,他希望看到他们组成团队竞选。




  温和民主党组织“第三条路”的联合创始人班尼特(Matt Bennett)表示,在这个点上选择希拉里是朝后看,而奥巴马完全是要向前看,要改变的。“他根本上是新品种的政治。选择希拉里显然是向后看,我认为他不想这样。”

  此外,一些民主党人认为,这个组合并非一加一大于二,而可能产生反效果,推开那些不愿意给非裔美国人投票和不愿意给妇女投票的选民。(作者 ADAM NAGOURNEY)



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