Top Democrats Strain to Keep Pace

In Cal­i­for­nia, Can­di­dates Show­ing Toll of Com­pressed Pri­mary Sched­ule

The Washington Post Sunday - - Politics - By Anne E. Korn­blut

SAN DIEGO, April 28 — Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton (D-N.Y.) ap­peared here with­out her hus­band this week­end, but she did bring one of his trade­marks: a hoarse speak­ing voice.

Clin­ton said she was fight­ing a cold. But at a news con­fer­ence af­ter her speech to the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­cratic Party Con­ven­tion on Satur­day, she ac­knowl­edged that the front-loaded 2008 pri­mary sched­ule is putting a strain on her can­di­dacy.

Hav­ing Cal­i­for­nia, New York and other big states move up their pri­maries to Feb. 5 “puts an ex­tra­or­di­nary bur­den on me and my cam­paign,” Clin­ton said, a rare ac­knowl­edg­ment of stress from one who has sought to look as if she finds cam­paign­ing a breeze.

“You know, we have never had a pri­mary process like this,” she said in re­sponse to a ques­tion about the ear­lier-than-ever Cal­i­for­nia con­test. “We’re all try­ing to fig­ure out how to man­age the re­sources, the time, the or­ga­ni­za­tional chal­lenges.” She quickly added: “But I’m ex­cited that Cal­i­for­nia is mov­ing up like it has de­cided to do.”

With the first pri­mary votes at least nine months away, the top-tier can­di­dates in both par­ties have been trav­el­ing at a break­neck speed, cram­ming cross-coun­try fundrais­ing and cam­paign swings into their days off.

The past week was an es­pe­cially gru­el­ing one for those Demo­cratic can­di­dates in the U.S. Se­nate. They voted Thurs­day on a war spend­ing bill, then rushed to South Carolina for the first de­bate of the cam­paign that night. They then headed west for the Cal­i­for­nia state con­ven­tion, a ma­jor gath­er­ing of Democrats with a his­tory of shap­ing the race (in 2003, it helped pro­pel for­mer Ver­mont gov­er­nor Howard Dean).

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) flew from Columbia, S.C., to San Diego for his speech, mak­ing an en­er­getic en­trance down the cen­ter aisle of a con­ven­tion cen­ter packed with scream­ing del­e­gates. “Oh, I am fired up now,” Obama said by way of open­ing.

But he has a long week ahead: He was to travel to Los An­ge­les late Satur­day, at­tend a church ser­vice there Sun­day, fly to Chicago that af­ter­noon and then to Dal­las on Mon­day be­fore re­turn­ing to Se­nate busi­ness Tues­day. Obama trav­els to New York, Ba­ton Rouge and Detroit within the week. And he warned the Cal­i­for­ni­ans in the crowd that his speeches may not be so smooth in the days ahead.

“There will be times when I get tired. There will be times when I make a mis­take,” Obama said. “If you don’t be­lieve me, talk to my wife — she’ll tell you. But this cam­paign we’re run­ning is not about me: It’s about you.”

Clin­ton, af­ter spar­ring with her ri­vals for 90 min­utes on Thurs­day night, flew back to Wash­ing­ton be­fore mak­ing the nearly six-hour trip to San Diego, where she ar­rived af­ter mid­night Satur­day. For­mer sen­a­tor John Ed­wards (D-N.C.) is plan­ning to ap­pear be­fore the con­ven­tion­eers Sun­day morn­ing.

De­spite her scratchy voice, Clin­ton de­liv­ered a force­ful ad­dress to Cal­i­for­nia del­e­gates, re­peat­edly re­fer­ring to her fu­ture pres­i­dency as a done deal.

“All across this coun­try, peo­ple are telling me they’re ready for change,” Clin­ton said. “Some­body said to me he wished he could just sort of rewind the 21st cen­tury, just elim­i­nate the Bush-Cheney ad­min­is­tra­tion with all their mis­state­ments and mis­judg­ments.” She added: “It is our coun­try they are run­ning, and we are tired of them be­liev­ing that they can have a coun­try of the few and by the few and for the few. Those days have got to end.”

“Well, I am here to tell you that if you are ready to change, I am ready to lead, and I will need your help,” she said.

Sev­eral weeks into the sec­ond fundrais­ing quar­ter, Clin­ton also said that as pres­i­dent she would look into ways to en­force pub­lic fi­nanc­ing of elec­tions — in­clud­ing, po­ten­tially, a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment. Clin­ton was headed Satur­day night to Sil­i­con Val­ley, with stops in Reno and Los An­ge­les planned be­fore her re­turn trip to Wash­ing­ton.


“This cam­paign we’re run­ning is not about me: It’s about you.” Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said.


“All across this coun­try, peo­ple are telling me they’re ready for change,” Sen. Hil­lary Clin­ton said.

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