After my one on one interview with Senator Hillary Clinton this week, there was no doubt in my mind that she would continue her campaign regardless of the Kentucky outcome. Even as staffers seemed to have a few questions in their mind about where this is all going… Clinton was resolute. She said confidently… “this is not over.” She also said there is nothing wrong with a close nomination process or a spirited convention.
After her more than two to one trouncing of Senator Barack Obama in Kentucky… after a similar outcome in West Virginia last week…. Clinton is more convinced than ever that she is the Democrat who can win in November. In Kentucky, she won 118 of the state’s 120 counties, losing only the two most urban counties of Fayette and Jefferson.
Many of Clinton’s voters also told exit pollers that they are McCain votes waiting to happen IF she is not the Democratic nominee. A full 42% say they’ll cross party lines and support McCain.
Clinton’s new mantra is “count every vote.” That’s a saying she hopes will hit the right notes in Florida where the scars from the disputed 2000 election remain. She and Obama headed straight to Florida after the Kentucky and Oregon primaries.
LUNSFORD VERSUS McCONNELL
The Bruce Lunsford versus Mitch McConnell race could be interesting. Democrat Lunsford is promising to match Republican McConnell’s efforts dollar for dollar, in what will easily become Kentucky’s most expensive statewide campaign ever. Lunsford repeatedly tried to tie Senator McConnell to President Bush during his victory speech.
McConnell was quick with the same tactic…. referring to the “Lunsford-Obama plan for America.” McConnell, fresh off winning 86% of the vote in his Republican renomination is promising to continue pressing his case that the election is about the future and not the past. But McConnell is bolstering his argument with campaign spots that talk about the things that only time in Washington can bring…. power, prestige and position. The comparisons to Alben Barkley who was the senate majority leader and vice president are compelling. But in the back of McConnell’s mind there also has to be the thought of senate Democratic leader Earl Clements. Kentucky voters sent him home (actually to another Washington job) in 1956 after a campaign that successfully painted him as a creature of Washington… “out of touch” with Kentucky.
Lunsford’s challenge is first to unite his own party… he got just over half the Democratic votes. He has run for governor twice before, but still comes across a bit uneasy on the campaign trail.
Neither McConnell nor Lunsford have the benefit of a Wendell Ford style personality. Ford never met a stranger and to this day can easily recall the names of people he hasn’t seen in years and immediately share a laugh. One of the old time back slappers, Ford was also a serious governor and serious senator. Lunsford and McConnell are both serious without the “Ford style” easy going ways on the campaign trail.
More about this race and others as we go along… Thanks to those of you who watched our election night coverage on WKYT who got your election details from WKYT.COM.
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