By Ryan Grim, Today’s Papers, Slate Magazine
The New York Times and Washington Post lead with nearly identical headlines, reporting that Barack Obama has sharpened his tone on the eve of the Pennsylvania primary The Wall Street Journal puts the pope’s visit to Ground Zero atop its world-wide news box, fronting two stories on the Democratic primary.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., has been asking Democrats to take a fresh look at Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in the wake of what she considers to be her superior debate performance. “It’s no wonder my opponent has been so negative these last few days of this campaign,” she said, “because I think you saw the difference between us.”
The Post notes that Obama’s increasingly negative rhetoric is a departure from his practice of coasting into a primary vote with a positive message, nervous about making Clinton seem too sympathetic. After Clinton’s many comebacks, he seems to be dismissing that fear. The last few days, Obama has painted Clinton as a compromised Washington insider (Times) and a practitioner of old-style, special-interest politics (Post)—while making apologies for getting rough. “Look, our campaign’s not perfect,” he said. “There’ve been times where, you know, if you get elbowed enough, eventually you start elbowing back.”
The Wall Street Journal fronts speculation that, immediately following the primaries, “influential Democrats—led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—plan to push the last uncommitted party leaders to endorse a candidate, in hopes of preventing a fight at the August presidential convention, party insiders say. … That’s when Mrs. Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean and their allies will start rallying superdelegates to decide the contest in favor of the leading candidate, Democrats say.” Leading candidate has become a euphemism for Obama, given his essentially insurmountable lead.
Reading between the story’s lines, it’s possible to wager a guess at the identity of the insider sources. Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s 2000 campaign manager, is quoted in the piece saying a group around Clinton doesn’t “care about the party” and that after the last primary “we’ll all talk to each other. I know I’ll reach out to some key people, including my ex-boss.” Dean, too, was interviewed for the story, as were Pelosi aides.
WSJ fronts a look at Obama’s rise through Illinois politics.
Latin America’s political movement leftward continued, with the landslide election of a man dubbed the “Bishop of the poor” in Paraguay.