Hillary And Obama: Where Are The Issues?
By Dane Smith
Recent elections have rarely been as heated as the '08 race for the Democratic nomination between freshman Illinois Senator Barack Obama and New York Senator Hillary Clinton. From the televised bickering of their national debates to the recent jabs over NAFTA, the fight has hung on tiny margins several times throughout their respective campaigns. March 4 was a significant day for the primary candidates because Hillary Clinton managed to, for at least the second time, defy the odds and win the key states of Ohio and Texas, taking the less important Rhode Island to boot.
While Barack Obama still holds the lead in overall delegates, Hillary found out about the election results in Ohio in time to have an evening press conference in time for the news, which enabled her to capitalize on a phenomenon that has generally been directed at her opponent: momentum. In a speech more reminiscent of Obama's previously engaging "message of change" than of her own stump, Clinton played her underdog card better than she ever has before. As far as rhetoric goes, Obama has long held the advantage, relying on his emotional appeal to rally confidence. Yet his tone was somewhat subdued and mathematical at his victory party in San Antonio, as he repeated the facts on how the numbers are on his side, and that his delegate lead will still be hard for Clinton to beat. The tables were turned, albeit briefly, despite Obama's momentous winning streak of 11 states in a row and the national attention that has focused on his campaign as a result.
Americans are increasingly focusing on the issues where the candidates have differing stances, as much of their literature shows their platforms to be about 90% the same, with healthcare and the economy emerging as the most important in recent days. Ohio voters have blamed
the North American Free Trade Agreement as being responsible for outsourcing jobs to foreign countries, and its creation by Bill Clinton in the early 90's has proven a complicated feat for Hillary to spin. Stating that she has always thought that NAFTA was fundamentally flawed, Clinton has recently gone on the offensive after one of Obama's staff members allegedly told a Canadian foreign minister that the agreement wouldn't be renegotiated under his administration. Even if the remark was offhand, or not meant to represent Obama's true stance, as he has stated in recent days, neither candidate would likely have much leeway in regard to the agreement because of how generally beneficial it is to America's consistent oil supplies, which would be the biggest bargaining chip in Canada's pile.
Since Canada is required to provide oil to the US whenever there is a perceived danger of deficit, they would be able to use this leverage. Since both candidates are mostly paying lip service to populist sentiment, the real question is: Who will be able to turn this into a nomination? Ohio and Texas have both complicated matters for Obama, who now has a tough campaign in front of him, and the Democratic Party as a whole, which will surely be weakened by a united Republican attack.
Ki works as a real estate agent in Austin.