For Obama and Clinton, it's back to the future in Florida
Obama visits Wednesday to mend fences for the fall, while Clinton points to her Jan. 29 primary win.
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Obama plans to be in Florida through the end of the week, with visits to a synagogue in Boca Raton and with a Cuban-American group in Miami, as well as a few fundraisers. Clinton had not released her schedule past Wednesday. But according to her website, her supporters have organized several of their own events to picket Obama's visit.
"Protest Obama coming to Florida when he does not even recognize our right to vote!" reads the listing for an event outside an Obama fundraiser in Hollywood, Fla., Thursday. "Bring Signs!"
The disputed 2000 presidential election, when Al Gore lost to George W. Bush by 543 Florida votes, has given Florida a kind of immortality as a make-or-break state for presidential candidates. As if to underscore the point, the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, visited Tuesday.
Despite Obama's lead of nearly 200 delegates nationally, Clinton contended Monday that the race was "nowhere near over." In her latest take on nomination math, she said that the states she won together had more electoral votes – the yardstick for the general election – than those Obama had won. She also argued that if Florida and Michigan were included, she would be ahead in the popular vote.
"I'm going to make my case and I'm going to make it until I'm the nominee and we're not going to have one today and we're not going to have one tomorrow and we're not going to have one the next day," she said at a campaign stop in Maysville, Ky.
In Florida's Jan. 29 primary, Clinton won 50 percent of the vote, to Obama's 33 percent, in a state whose demographics – older, with large Latino and Jewish populations – tended to favor her.
How Florida would lean in November remains an open question. In a Quinnipiac University poll of Florida voters late last month, Clinton led Senator McCain 49 percent to 41 percent. Obama and McCain were in a statistical tie.
The timing of Clinton's Florida trip carries political risks, says Dr. Jillson. Though it could remind the national party of her strong finish in a key swing state, it could backfire if she is seen as sowing division.
"There are dangers to Obama if he continues to be stymied as he turns to face McCain," Jillson says. "There are dangers to Clinton because the rest of the party may begin to see her as a spoiler, rather than a fighter unwilling to give up."