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Rallies Are So February

Barack Obama is apparently giving up on the mass rallies that impressed the pundits and gave endless copy to reporters about swooning girls, packed gyms, and record-breaking crowds. His campaign says the rally scenes have become a “monotonous backdrop.”

I think this means several things. First, the media finally noticed that he was giving the same speech over and over again. Second, young people fill mass rallies in crowded gyms, but not the people he needs to expand his base– working class voters and seniors, for example.

In some ways this is indicative of his entire campaign. The tactics that got him primary wins and adulation in January and February (big crowds, high-flying rhetoric) are now outmoded and insufficient. Some previously enthusiastic pundits have gone so far as to say:

This is a campaign that hasn’t won anything in some eight weeks; it’s a candidacy and message that seems tired . . . Obama looked almost like a victim. That’s not where an American presidential candidate wants to be.

The question remains whether Obama’s retail political talents, policy positions (does opposing gas tax relief win primaries?), and press interview skills are sufficient to match Hillary Clinton’s. That’s one of many questions the Indiana and North Carolina results will answer on Tuesday night.



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