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GOP Makes Play For Clinton Dems « The Washington Independent

While most of the news this weekend was about Sen. Barack Obama’s choice of running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), the McCain campaign appears to be focusing its attention on another of Obama’s primary rivals — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. With a pair of ads and a press conference today in Denver, as the Democratic National Convention gets underway, the McCain campaign is stepping up efforts to court Clinton’s disaffected primary supporters.

In the early morning hours Sunday, the McCain campaign released a TV ad in several states titled “Passed Over,” a not-so-subtle reference to the fact that Obama did not choose Clinton as his running mate, as many in the Democratic Party had urged. The spot, predictably, features clips of Clinton raising questions about Obama — on what she called his “increasingly negative” campaign, his connections to convicted Chicago real estate developer Tony Rezko, and his lack of specificity on how he plans to lead the country.

Clinton released the following statement yesterday in response to the ad:

The Republican National Committee hosted a press conference this morning just blocks from the Pepsi Center, where the Democrats are preparing to launch their national convention this afternoon. The press conference featured Carly Fiorina, a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain and RNC Victory chair, and Debra Bartoshevich, the former Wisconsin Clinton Delegate who was stripped of her delegate status after publicly vowing to vote for McCain.

To coincide with her appearance in Denver, the McCain campaign sought to sow discord among the Democratic party with the release of another ad starring Bartoshevich. In the ad, Bartoshevich says she supported Clinton because “she had the experience and judgment to be president,” but now supports McCain for the same reason. She tells viewers that “a lot of Democrats will vote McCain. It’s okay, really!”

The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder reports the RNC is preparing yet another ad playing the Hillary angle. This spot features Clinton saying both she and McCain “bring a lifetime of experience” to the campaign and Obama “will bring a speech he gave in 2002″ — referring to Obama’s now-famous speech opposing going to war in Iraq.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll suggests that some former Clinton supporters may be ripe for the McCain campaign’s picking. From CNN:

Sixty-six percent of Clinton supporters, registered Democrats who want Clinton as the nominee, are now backing Obama. That’s down from 75 percent in the end of June. Twenty-seven percent of them now say they’ll support McCain, up from 16 percent in late June.

“The number of Clinton Democrats who say they would vote for McCain has gone up 11 points since June, enough to account for most although not all of the support McCain has gained in that time,” says [CNN Polling Director Keating] Holland.

The telephone survey of 1,023 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, but the results from questions asked just of Clinton supporters had a margin of error of plus or minus 7.5 percentage points. This is, of course, a very large margin of error, and could account for much of the 9-point shift in support for Obama among these voters between June and July. Also, this survey was conducted Saturday and Sunday — immediately after Obama named Biden as his running mate — which could have opened old wounds for many Clinton supporters and skewed their answers. However, if polling data over the next few weeks finds similar numbers of Clinton supporters withholding their support — or moving toward McCain — Obama may have a big problem on his hands.

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