By Ben Whitford
Hillary Clinton upped the ante yesterday ahead of Tuesday’s crucial primary votes in Texas and Ohio, running provocative TV ads that the NYT says “all but declared Senator Barack Obama unprepared to serve as commander in chief”.
The ads show children sleeping while an international crisis brews and a phone rings, unanswered, in the White House; the announcer says that only Clinton has the experience “to lead in a dangerous world” and asks: “Who do you want answering the phone?” The LAT notes that Clinton staffers hope the ad will rally female voters, in a repeat of the last-minute surge that helped Hillary to victory in New Hampshire. With everyone – including Slate‘s John Dickerson – noting parallels to Walter Mondale’s 1984 “red phone” ad, Obama countered with an ad of his own, arguing that Clinton had already fluffed her “red phone” moment by backing the war in Iraq.
The Post reports that behind the scenes, Clinton strategists were yesterday trying to downplay the necessity of winning both Texas and Ohio in Tuesday’s vote. Still, the WSJ notes that if Hillary fails to pick up both states – or if Texas’s complex primary-caucus hybrid ends in tears – she’ll likely face pressure to step aside for the good of the party. Bob Herbert picks up the theme in the NYT: “Tuesday’s elections may decide the nominee. But if they don’t, the wisest heads in the party will be faced with the awesome task of preventing a train wreck that would ruin what was supposed to have been a banner year.”