Politics and International Affairs and the quest for the ulterior motive.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hill pulls a Bill!
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton regained her front-runner status by proving her detractors and pollsters wrong by edging past Barack Obama in the New Hampshire primaries. The win will reinvigorate her quest for the White House and makes the Democratic race a two horse affair between her and Obama. The run up to the New Hampshire primaries saw Clinton trailing Obama by 10 points according to pollsters, who were proven wrong rather emphatically. Many analysts, after the Iowa caucus defeat had predicted the end of the Clinton campaign, but she managed to win a state that her husband won in 1992 and was dubbed the ‘comeback kid’ in those presidential elections. Pundits who had predicted the end of the Clinton campaign did spell out their predictions much too soon in a race that is just beginning to gain momentum. With the second place finish, Obama will now look forward to the Nevada primaries, wanting to regain some composure and momentum, lost due to the New Hampshire setback. The race now seems poised for a fight to the finish till February 5th, when 24 states go to the polls. Barack Obama was quick to reemphasize the fact that he never was or is the frontrunner but sees himself as the perennial underdog. The Obama strategy is to lower expectations, even though he is poised to do well in Nevada and South Carolina, so as to claim a even larger victory if he wins the two states. The Clinton campaign is now looking to continue is first place position, knowing fully well that the daggers will be out again, a la post Iowa, if she loses another state. The campaign also saw John Edwards finish second in New Hampshire, and though he will fight on till the South Carolina primaries, his home state, the chances of Edwards winning the candidature seem remote. Also, it is likely that the fourth place will end Bill Richardson’s campaign, and in that likelihood there is a high certainty that Clinton might offer him to become her vice-presidential candidate. While a Clinton-Obama Democratic ticket sounds too good to be true, it remains outside the realms of immediate possibility. Obama, Clinton and Edwards have taken position far diverse from each other and their coming together to run on a democratic presidential and vice presidential ticket seems remote. Richardson, who served as Energy Secretary and at the UN under Bill Clinton, will seem like a handy candidate for Hillary Clinton to win over the crucial Hispanic vote in politically important states like California, New Mexico and Texas. The battle for the democrats is clearly in South Carolina. The top three candidates have a lot at stake in the state. The state has a large African American population that can sway the result for any candidate. Bill Clinton enjoyed the support of this politically vital community during his two presidential races and his wife would want to retain those votes. For Obama, it will be an important test to see the type of support he enjoys amongst his own. And for Edwards, fighting in his home state will mean more about a show of strength and honor and also an indication of where his race is going.

The Republicans seem to be in the undecided mode. Without giving a clear signal, all four frontrunners continue to battle on. While John McCain made a predictable comeback, New Hampshire has been his focus and the state has been particularly kind to him, though, he still figures below Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani in the national polls. Mike Huckabee won third place in New Hampshire and would like to continue his momentum to South Carolina, a state which has a large Christian evangelical population, a segment which has been the bulwark of the Huckabee campaign. Mitt Romney, who invested a lot of time and money in New Hampshire, finished second. Sounding upbeat, he said that he had won one gold and two silvers, with victories in Wyoming and second place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, he has vowed to carry forward his campaign. His test will come in Michigan, his home state, where if he fails to do well he might just see his candidature fizzle out. While a favorable win in the state will give him the momentum to carry on the fight. Also, after a loss in Michigan to carry out the fight in South Carolina given his Mormon beliefs might just seem untenable. As of now, it does seem that Michigan will go to McCain, who enjoys support amongst the automotive unions that make a big chunk of voting blocks in the state. The mysterious campaign of Rudy Giuliani continues to defy logic. Not fighting in Iowa and New Hampshire has thrown his campaign out of the national debate. By wanting to put his political eggs in the Florida basket, the self proclaimed “mayor of America” might be putting up too big a gamble. However, he still remains a strong contender who might just win the candidature.

So with two states having thrown out two different results, this race is still too early to be called. However, it is emerging clearly that the fight is narrowing down to a two or three candidates on either side and who knows like New Hampshire, the coming primaries might alter who remains on top and for how long.


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