Submitted by Michael N. Price
With the Pennsylvania primary quickly approaching, both Democratic candidates are doing their best to avoid a disastrous political slip-up that could cost them the all-important April 22 vote.
Both Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have made their fair share of mistakes in recent weeks. From uproar over a fiery and controversial pastor, to false claims of dangerous Serbian snipers, each candidate has been dealing with backlash over political missteps that may end up tipping the vote in the opposite direction.
There have been persistent cries from both sides that the media has been unfairly treating one candidate over the other, most notably since the remarkable impact a Saturday Night Live skit had shortly before the Texas and Ohio primaries.
In a campaign season stretching as long as this one (few predicted the Pennsylvania primary would even be relevant, let alone decisive), candidates are bound to make mistakes. But whose blunders have hurt the most?
With all the controversy over fiery comments made by Obama’s former pastor, it looked like the Cinderella campaign had finally reached midnight. Radio commentators were in full uproar; video clips on YouTube were receiving hundreds of thousands of hits, and it seemed Obama might be facing a political meltdown.
But then came Clinton to the rescue. She gave the dramatic account of her 1996 visit to Bosnia one time too many, and the network news organization that accompanied her on that trip jumped all over it. Out came the video of Clinton’s visit, complete with the welcome ceremony she claimed never happened.
With one CBS Evening News story, Clinton’s theatrical tale of ducking for cover under the threat of sniper fire was smashed to pieces, along with much of her credibility.
Suddenly Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright was old news, and YouTube had a new runaway hit. The Washington Post gave Clinton’s tale four ‘Pinocchios,’ the paper’s highest honor for falsities.
As disturbing and unpopular as the comments made by Wright may be, Obama neither made nor supported them. While the sentiments in Wright’s sermons surely offend and even infuriate many Americans, there are also many in this nation who feel those statements are somewhat accurate, if not exaggerated.
And the Clintons feel they are being treated unfairly.
Then, as if they needed more problems, reports of financial woes plaguing the Clinton campaign were released.
In a story broke by Politico, it was reported that the Clinton campaign was carrying hundreds of unpaid bills, instead using the cash on hand to pay for much needed media advertising.
The numbers are staggering.
Clinton ended the month of February carrying an $8.7 million debt, compared to a miniscule $625,000 for Obama. Not only that, the New York senator had only $11 million to use in the contest with Obama. Obama ended the month carrying $31 million.
The news was no better at the end of March. Obama continued his record fundraising pace through the month, raising more than $40 million for his campaign, a figure that more than doubled Clinton’s numbers.
If the Democratic Party is truly searching for the candidate with the best shot of defeating Sen. John McCain in a general election, they must consider the amount of funding each candidate will bring to the table.
Both candidates have made mistakes, and before it is all over, they are sure to make more. But while one candidate’s mistakes have been arbitrary, if not irrelevant, the other’s reflect on two of the most important qualities a presidential candidate must have: integrity and fiscal responsibility.
Michael N. Price is a journalism major also studying Arabic who plans to graduate in May 2009. He is originally from Downingtown, Pa.