Playing Defense

MSNBC has a great story that intertwines two areas where Obama is on the defense: In defusing Clinton’s “zombie coalition” of uneducated whites, latinos, and asians who may vote for McCain rather than Obama on racial-coalition lines, and in the Rev Wright debacle. For the first, Obama has snatched up Bill Richardson‘s endorsement, trying to pull at least some latinos into his coalition. For the second, the Obama campaign sent a picture of Bill Clinton meeting Wright at some function to the press, in an attempt to tar Clinton with association to the man who baptized his children.

In both cases, Obama keeps his campaign focused on race, which is strange for a candidate who once was greeted by chants of race doesn’t matter. But it makes perfect sense when one realizes that Clinton is controlling this campaign, “moving his pieces and hers,” and that her attempt in South Carolina to define Obama as a race-based candidate is paying off.

First thoughts: A bad week for everyone – First Read –
That said, two developments that occurred last night — the news that Bill Richardson is endorsing Obama and the breach of his passport records — have changed the subject, at least in the short term. But we do have this question for the Obama campaign: Why did it leak that photo of Wright with Bill Clinton? Doesn’t that just give cable networks another excuse to run the video of Wright? How does that turn the page? It was an odd decision to say the least.

*** Richardson’s endorsement: When John Edwards made an appearance on Leno last night, we were bracing ourselves for a possible endorsement. We just didn’t know it would be coming from Bill Richardson, who will formally throw his support behind Obama at a campaign event today in Portland, OR. The endorsement isn’t too much of a surprise — Richardson had been hinting his support for Obama for a while. Still, it’s significant for two reasons: 1) Richardson becomes the second Dem presidential contender to endorse Obama, while none has backed Clinton (Biden and Edwards are still neutral); and 2) ,b>Richardson specifically cited Obama’s speech on race as a reason for getting off the fence. “He asked us to rise above our racially divided past, and to seize the opportunity to carry forward the work of many patriots of all races, who struggled and died to bring us together,” he said in a letter to his supporters.

Obama is so wise for running out the clock. He’s a weak candidate who has trouble competing in arenas were good speeches are not enough. Thus, Obama looks like he will be able to hobble his way to the Democratic Convention, win the 48-state election, and face John McCain in the general election.