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Hillary Clinton campaign talks about possible California defeat

This could all be just so much manipulation, an attempt by Hillary Clinton's brain trust to reduce expectations for today's results to give her a little more oomph should she sweep the big states, including California.

But it could be they're genuinely nervous. Clinton is calling for more one-on-one televised debates with Barack Obama, a rare move for a front-runner and one that could signal the campaign thinks she's in trouble. Clinton has done well in earlier debates, while Obama has been inconsistent. Clinton has accepted four debates: one on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" this Sunday; one the next day on Fox in Washington, D.C.; and one more each in Texas and Ohio.

In a conference call a little while ago with reporters -- including our colleague Peter Nicholas -- Clinton strategists said Obama could win more delegates nationwide today than Clinton, a remarkable reversal of fortunes for a campaign that a few weeks ago was trying to paint Clinton as the inevitable nominee.

In fact, two months ago Clinton told supporters at a Sacramento fundraiser that ...

... it "is all going to be over by Feb. 5." At least she didn't guarantee it.

"We're confident we're going to win a diverse mix of states today, but the results are going to be close and inconclusive due to the proportional allocation of delegates under the Democratic Party rules," said Howard Wolfson, Clinton's communications advisor. "We do expect to maintain the overall lead in delegates tomorrow when we wake up that we do today.''

Clinton's strategists said they could see the fight going through March and possibly onto the convention floor in Denver in August -- great sport for political junkies but a test of nerves for the candidates. And even if Obama gets more delegates today, Clinton's advisors said her lead among "super delegates'' -- party leaders and elected officials who are free to vote as they choose -- would still give her the overall lead. But that would just add to the perception that she's the mainstream choice, and fuel Obama's contention that he's the candidate of change.

So how did Clinton lose her dominant position in California, a state she once led by 16 poll points?

Wolfson: "Sen Obama has put considerable resources into the state. He's had large rallies, he's had great surrogates coming out to urge his supporters to vote.... Much to their credit the state is close. I don't think we're going to know who has won California until very late into the night. That's just the way politics is. The election wasn't 30 days ago. It's today. And as of today it's very close.''

Check back after as the evening proceeds to see how much of that was spin and how much was prediction.

-- Scott Martelle

Comments () | Archives (67)

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Fair or not, she carries to much Bill Baggage to get the necessary Independent and Swing voters in November -- and to win the general election, you need those votes.
Obama, on the other hand, has wide, cross-over appeal.

If you don't want another four years of a Republican in the White House, be smart. Think November. VOTE OBAMA.

(Check out today's Washington Post Op Eds and David Brooks' piece in the NYT. Also, Michael Mogulescu (sp) on the Huff Post spells it out perfectly.)

Only Obama can get enough of the general population to win the White House.

Right wing talking points seem to work pretty well for the New Kid on the Block-the American Idol. Let's just wait and see if David Axelrod's confection, can pull it out and continue to fool the people- So far so good-most voters seem to think that experience doesn't matter-even after 7 years of Bush. I live in a state, Massachusetts that has another one of Axelrod's "authentic" candidates. Our new governor, Deval Patrick's 'yes we cans" have turned into, "don't give up on me." Same rhetoric-same inexperience.
Shame on anyone who falls for this again. "I'm a uniter not a divider." Yeah-right.

Either Obama or Hillary can defeat McCain or McMean as his staff calls him, McCain is a horrible debater, lazy, lost, old, confused, a flip flopper and born again conservative for the moment, and will look like a lost senior citizen ("Grumpy Old Men", when matched up against either Obama or Hillary, the best thing about Obama is he can argue for the Future and against McMean's defense of the worse president ever broke back George (as in the deficit and world opinion of this great Nation).


would you send your child to a scholl where the principle did cocaine? would mcdonald's hire you if you told them you did cocaine in the past.

why is the president's post so cheap?

Don't underestimate Hillary, she can beat McCain. She's smart, she's tough and she's a great debater.

The senators are elected to make decisions on behalf of you (after all we all pay there salaries) and thus I don’t think they should be voting “present”. If someone votes present 130 times due to conflict of interest then they have no business in public office.

Any job interview one goes to most certainly will face the question, what experience you bring to this job? During the debate in LA, the moderator asked a question something like - Romney may be better qualified to be the president because of his CEO experience and how you both will respond to that. Mr. Obama having no experience to bring to the table attacked back by questioning Mr. Romney’s return on investment so far. The more experienced candidate gave a well thought answer from her experience that for starters government is not exactly like a company since it’s for the people and by the people. Just one example, folks the answers and decisions to tough situations come from experience and can’t be staged or written by a good speech writer. As much as I like to see someone from my state be the next president, there is a better qualified candidate for the job. Go HRC.

Gotta agree that a Clinton nomination = republican in the white house. While I think many of the old school democrats may prefer Hillary, they'll vote for whoever gets the nomination. Obama will command way more vote from independents and even republicans. Obama will win the election.

If we get Hillary, we can say hello to McCain for 4 years. If we get Obama, then we will finally get a pres who knows what he is doing.

I say you all need to take a stroll in the park and wait until the votes are all counted. There have been numerous times she said and I quote, "She doesn't believe in polls, she believes in people, " and I have been to many of her rallies way back in November when she was ahead in the polls where she told her supporters not to pay attention to the polls because there was alot of work to do between now and February 5th. Hillary never takes anything for granted!! She got this far in life working hard and she will continue to work hard even if she is not the democratic nominee. She could have chosen all her married life to take a back seat to Bill Clinton but didn't. Instead after an 8 year presidency she continues to be a public servant to our country. She is definitely a remarkable woman.

Hillary for president 08

Dem Debaters.
They did not stand up for equal rights for all debaters, exp. Gravel and Kuchinich. What makes you think they would talke the opportunity to stand up for your right to communicate. The forest starts with the trees.

I don't know if I would send a child to a scholl [sic] where the principle [sic] did cocaine, but I can guarantee that I don't take political advice from people that can't even approximate correct spelling or punctuation.

It doesnt look good for Obama in fact. I'm a Latino in Ohio and I've heard from relatives in Los Angeles they're all supporting Clinton. They went with a familiar name, Bush, last time and now they're making a similar sheeplike mistake with another familiar name, Clinton. Look beyond the dynasty friends. Please reconsider.


McCain's age, health and the odd history of his wife are all going to catch up to him before November. Also, once he has the nomination, his "we did the right thing in Iraq" stance is going to cause him alot of trouble with the American people once they start to pay attention to the two nominees and compare them issue by issue. Obama simply can't hold up. Have you see how poorly he does in debates?? Let's pray the Democrats come to their senses and nominate Hillary, who knows how to handle the incoming fire.

With all the bitter division and strife on the Republican side, it seems that a Democratic victory in November in all but assured. The only thing that could trip up the Democrats at this point would be if Hillary wins the nomination. That is probably the only thing that will energize the Republicans enough to set aside their own internal disagreements and come to the polls in a massive "anti-Hillary" vote. Many Republicans will refuse to vote for McCain, but those same Republicans will certainly mobilize to vote against Hillary.

Hillary Clinton = best way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

"the election wasn't 30 days ago. It's today. And as of today it's very close."

Actually, about half the voters of the state -have- been voting for 30 days: Early voting trends will be a huge push for Clinton, as she had double-digit leads in the state a month ago, Obama has been steadily closing the gap but it won't be enough for a full on route.

At the end of the day, Clinton will have more delegates, but Obama will have collected enough to hang in and keep fighting, hoping to keep his momentum climbing.

Tonight and tomorrow will really end up being a massive spin battle, and I think Clinton is already attempting to set the stage by keeping expectations low.

Think about New Hampshire, the story wasn't that Obama had closed a huge gap to come within 3% of the total popular vote and in fact winning the same amount of delegates--which elect primary winners--but the story was a "Clinton Comeback" from a state she should have won handily.

It was a master PR move, and I think we are going to see some of that this week.

Obama Supporters:


Lowering expectations is one way to suppress the turnout.
Look what happened in New Hampshire....

Vote vote vote!

You people who so confidently claim McCain will win the election if Hillary gets the Democratic nomination really are funny.

You seriously think that 71% of the country that can't stand dubya and his 'war' are going to vote for a war-mongering McCain?

Please. There are only so many morons in this country and they do NOT hold a majority.

If Obama does win, let's hope he isn't another Jimmy "leaders for a change" Carter.

And if Hillary wins, let's hope the media refrains from their clearly negative slants (read the headlines people - it's right there BEFORE you even get into the story) and let's her turn this country around.

And stop repeating the garbage you have been brainwashed with by the biased media. I've seen it once in the news, I don't need to see it again by a 'commenter'

To those who said, Hillary nomination means McCain in Whitehouse, I say Amen. That is because I intend to vote for Obama, not Hillary. If no Obama, then its gonna be mcCain. I guess there are many more out there, that are thinking the same thing as I do.

The important thing is not who can beat who in a debate, it is who is better for the country and for the world. The job of US president doesn't stop with US, it affects the whole world, more than presidents/PM of any other country on earth. So, think big. Think global. Think about the future. Think about the environment. Think about life after election day, not just the 4 years from that day, but for 400 years. We can starve and reduce the deficit, but we can't live without water, and won't live if we can't breath. Think about it.

Let's be realistic. I am black & I know America will not
elect a black president. If we do not want another
republican president we must vote for Hillary. I would
like to see a black president, but I don't live in a fantasy world.

Wow - gone are the days of professional, objective journalism.

You guys over here at the L.A. Times aren't professional enough to even TRY to hide your bias.

Totally sickening.

I'm a New Yorker and I think this nation had enought clinton politics. Why can't this country and the democratic party move away from the old history of almost 40 years of clintons.

As far as the debates- I don't trust her. In New Hampshire she cried, In Nevada old Billy Boy accused voter fraud, In SC- well they better not go back again to ask for votes they have insulted the intelligence of black voters and paid a heavy price- African American lash out across this country.

Obama plays it straight, he doesn't calculate every little word he says.

I still think Hillary because of all the early voting will win Calif- If Obama does its a new day for this democracy.

It's interesting that President Clinton is able to help his wife's campaign so much. Where was he when Al Gore needed him in 2000? Where was he when we all needed him to keep Bush and Cheney out of the Whitehouse?

For those who are too young to remember, Al Gore, Clinton's VP, should have been able to glide into the presidency on Clinton's coattails if the Clinton years had really been as rosy as some are now trying to paint them. Instead, Gore's only chance of being elected was to put as much distance as possible between himself and the disgraced, disbarred, impeached President Clinton.

A stained blue dress, a lie under oath to Congress and the American people, and a ridiculous hedge regarding the meaning of the word "sex" enabled Republicans to claim they had cornered the market on decency, integrity, "family values."

The Bush-Cheney reign of terror is part of the Clinton legacy. If Senator Clinton wants to count her husband's presidency as part of her experience, she owns that, too.

Yes, a Clinton nomination = McCain in the Whitehouse, or Romney, or even (shudder) Huckabee.

Obama is what we need in this country to up lift americans out of their seat.i love Mrs.Clinton but at this time and age CHANGE is important if you look at all the presidents we have had in this U S of A,they haven't done anything to make this country better but give us wars.Race wise is a sad thing if people vote against Obama because thier not seeing the big picture he has the ideas that this country need to move forward to becoming a great state and i think no one can do it not even a female nor any other male but obama is fair and its time for that.From the Washingtons to the bushs nothing has come good from them.Mr.Clinton,Mr.JFK,and the very few presidents the was in office made a change and they were mistreated.Don't get me wrong it's time for a female to run thing but we need to let the civil rights way of things go through the door first.Go!!Obama GO

Obama is what we need in this country to up lift americans out of their seat.i love Mrs.Clinton but at this time and age CHANGE is important if you look at all the presidents we have had in this U S of A,they haven't done anything to make this country better but give us wars.Race wise is a sad thing if people vote against Obama because thier not seeing the big picture he has the ideas that this country need to move forward to becoming a great state and i think no one can do it not even a female nor any other male but obama is fair and its time for that.From the Washingtons to the bushs nothing has come good from them.Mr.Clinton,Mr.JFK,and the very few presidents the was in office made a change and they were mistreated.Don't get me wrong it's time for a female to run thing but we need to let the civil rights way of things go through the door first.Go!!Obama GO

REgardless who is going to win Clinton or Obama at the end after they will make CLinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton they will sweep all democrats under one basket.
Republicans don't ahve that luxury.

I think Hillary, like Bush, is too polarizing to the American electorate and would lose in a national contest against a "moderate" like John McCain. White evangelical voters aren't excited by the prospect of voting for McCain or Romney, but would turn out to ensure that Hillary doesn't win a single state below the Mason-Dixon Line. Obama might lose to McCain as well, but stands a better chance of making inroads into the South and lower Midwest. You win with coalitions. As a moderate, McCain would be attractive to independents, swing voters and other moderates, which would put states that Kerry carried in 2004 (Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania) into play for the Republicans. The Democrats need someone who can put Southern states into play on the Democratic side and Obama would be able to do that better than Hil. Why? Because African-Americans and young white voters in Georgia, South Carolina and other states will stand taller for him than they would Clinton.

Skipper, you do your race poorly. Have a little faith. Have you, and all the other African Americans moaning the same sob story ever ONCE thought about saying YES! Maybe it's your own lack of confidence in yourselves that keeps everyone else from thinking an African American is electable too. Act indentured, be seen as indentured. Act proud, independant, and strong, be seen that way. I know how I act in my daily life, as a strong, proud, African American. Maybe you should give it a try.

And John? I'd be far more likely to hire someone who had made mistakes in the past (yes, even cocaine) than I ever would someone who can't spell "SCHOOL!" The military hires former drug users, the police forces hire former drug users, etc. The world knows mistakes are made in life. Why don't you? Maybe your mistake was not listening in "scholl".

Obama seems to be gaining momentum and could easily win the nomination today. If he can maintain and build that momentum into the general election, he will be president.

Hillary is a tougher call; she is divisive and, of late, has appeared tired from the daily grind. I wonder if she can keep up through the run up to a general election and if her divisiveness will cause her to lose the general election.

A very exciting year.

I was chanting and sign waving this morning for Hillary in LA in front of the Federal Building and the support was OVERWHELMINGLY favorable.Don't believe the Obamamites when they give negative reviews! Hillary will rock the Nation!!!

Hillary '08!!!


There is no way, whatsoever, that the people in this country on the right (the majority) would EVER elect or allow a black man to be president of the united states.

The south, the bible belt, new englanders - are all very racist people. BUT RACE ASIDE... What does Obama have to offer this country in terms of change. He's NOT a man with a clear vision, one that's unique in any way.
His ideas are not revolutionary -- rather, they are simply borrowed and regurgitated. Unfortunately, if Mr Obama were WHITE - he would not even be known in this election. The REALITY is -- for the first time in history, we have a very goodlooking, well-spoken, young african american man who is running and his look and charm are the only legs his campaign is running on.

We live in an extremely complicated world -- and many people on the right, believe that the war was and is RIGHT. So, Obama's "Right from Day One" mantra will be a big WRONG ANSWER with swing republicans and independents in this country.

We've been watching too many reality TV shows -- American Idol, Top Model, etc... and conditioned to
voting/rooting for the CUTE ONE. WAKE UP!!!
Our lives depend upon it. Vote for the person with the
most experience and proven track record for getting things DONE.


With Clinton in the White House the US will finally have a strong, sensible, smart and capable leader. Clinton can give this country direction and definition. Only she can give us a democratic victory.

vote for hillary you won't be sorry.

Who should we vote for,Obama says we should not vote for Hillery Clinton,She has A health care which will make poor people pay,Yes and so did Senator Ted Kennedy in Mass.And he's working for Obama,Also lets ask Senator Kennedy did he vote for the war,And lets not forget Senator Kennedy ran for President and was not Elected President,Because of the women he killed going over the bridge,And left the scene,And reported the accident until the next day.I feel we need to vote for Hillary Clinton,Look at her record,She will help the poor,And get the jobs that we need to make this world better for everyone,Don't just vote for Obama from his speaking,Look at the experience,And then you'll vote for Hillary Clinton.

If Hillary is elected, it will only mean Ken Starr will be coming out of retirement. Do we really want to go back to the '90s? Time to move forward, and Barack is the man to lead.

Si Se Puede

Obama poured everything he could into California, but he neglected the rest of the country. Clinton caught every state with her Town Hall that the press overlooked.

In all, Clinton will have a big night tonight, but all you'll read tomorrow is how Obama did in California.

There's 47 other states than Iowa, South Carolina, and California. You'd wouldn't think that with how the press has acted this primary. You'd think only 3 states count.

It's so nice to see that the media decides who our candidates are going to be. Oh, I forgot, the Constitution starts with " We the Corporate Media of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice..."

Whatever folks. I love those die-bold machines. That's fair too.

Skipper, I'm a white guy and live in the DEEP south. I'm going to vote for Obama. More people want to get past the black-white thing than you might think.

The main thing that I see separating Barack from Hillary besides a few policy differences is his hypocrisy in saying he "never" has been beholden to special interest groups.
My foot, what is anyone who believes that smoking!! What about Exelon, and his own PAC, and the money he has accepted from numerous special interests. It's all there for anyone to see in the contribution records. What about his beginning strong with the nuclear leak bill he sponsored, and gradually caving in to the status quo until the bill allows reporting on a volunteer basis instead of requiring mandated reporting of small leaks.
It's a fact that politicians do accept special interest money, but the worst is when Obama pretends to take the high road, makes it a campaign issue, and points the finger at Hillary, all the while knowing his own hands are dirty. If he runs for office on such a blatant lie, what would he do once he is in power and has the office of President in his possessionfor a solid 4 years. And he is the candidate of CHANGE? We don't need another liar and hypocrite in the White House! Please don't fall for his pretended innocence and honesty.

Its dangerous to make firm predictions. It not impossible that Hillary beat McCain, Just very unlikely. Whereas an Obama led ticket will almost certainly clinch the Whitehouse.

I'm a republican who wants to see Obama as our next president.

Has Obama been tested? Will he survive a general election? Will young people still be interested in the election in 10 months?

Typical politicians, what are they "REALLY" thinking. They strategize so often, I think they themselves are blilnded and are beginning to be baffled and confused. More power to them. I think this is why politicians, lawyers and used car salespersons are not highly-regarded professions.

Thank you very much !

This is typical behavior from the Clintons, who have a long history of living and dying by polls.

Bill Clinton actually institutionalized the type of polling by current Campaigns that is the norm now - he was infamously known not to take a piss before focus grouping it to death.

Hillary is a poli-Bot who will do (vote) or say anything to play to the polls. Its as no surprise that her campaign would be giving weight to these latest polls and strategizing ways to "get in front" of the polling data.

Obama is a very rude, dirty , corrupt politician. In this prudential race, he has been play race card, victim card and the like. Without Tony Razko, he even couldn’t be elected as a Illinois congressman. He wrote letters for Razko for getting government contract, as return, He has received large amount dirty money for his political career and his current presidential campaign, and moreover He jointly bought a mansion with Razko which Obama got $300,000 discount, whereas Razko not, strange? Razko’s trial start March 3, let us seeing more Obama corrupt details revealing.

He is nothing but empty talk. He is just another inexperienced Bush we have 8 years. We don’t want Bush, so we don’t want Obama!

I find it funny all the nonsense spouted about MRS. Clinton's "Experience". First off where did Bill come from when he became president? I do not believe it was New York state.

MRS. Clinton moved to New York after they determined it was the most likely place she could actually win a spot in the senate. To me that speaks of a very seedy character. Clinton demeanor comes across as fake and calculated. Obama at least gives the feeling of a real individual who actually can comprehend the troubles of daily life and not Clinton's "privileged" lifestyle.

It you want the same old garbage that has been driving this country into the crapper, vote for the same old type of candidates we have been getting for years. Otherwise vote for something new, refreshing and inspiring.

Obama! 08!

It's not just change. It's new life, new momentum, and a new perspective.

Yes WE Can!

what change? and what price change?- The most deceptive and nebulous term of this primary, The only change obama has brought is -galvinize african american votes to rubber stamp him and celebrities (who are better when confined to tv only) prop him up with racial bias while some others of the celebrity kind joined the fray lest they should be deemed to be racial or just plain clueless, just as the media seems to be driving up the euphoria for no reason, obama reminds me of paris hilton at this point- all this only alienates other minorities and this the change you wanted? get real, presidency is serious business, not a drama..obama is no colin powell, if we need the excitement we will go, pay and watch cinema! so, shake off the headiness and vote Hillary!


Lets get off the whole experience bit people... look at the stats.....

1. Obama has held an elected office longer than Hillary.
2. Obama has helped pass more bills than Hillary and Edwards together.
3. Obama specialized in Constitutional Law throughout his education.

..... lets give Obama the chance to restore the integrity of our U.S. Constitution.

Neither Obama or Clinton are going to stop the war. Obama belongs to the Yale Skull and Bones club that Bush belongs to and Hillary is supported by the owners of the Fed.

What you will get from either one of them and McCain is government growth, tax and spend, and war.

“…Hillary will be good for America… we’ll be very pleased that she’s president.” — Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Portfolio magazine, October 5, 2007 (The Rothschilds are major share holders in the Fed)

I'm a Democrat I'll vote Republican before I vote for Hillary if she is nominated. She is a mean spirited insider with way too much baggage of her own to be successful. Polarizing figures never benefit our country. She's just as bad as Bush in the effect she'd have on our country if she took hold of our Whitehouse with all her long time cronies.

Cant say I ever felt that way about John Edwards or Barack Obama.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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