Ross Mackenzie

Following the Ohio and Texas (etc.) results, a revised situation report (sitrep) — and the prospects….

Hillary Clinton:

Ohio and Texas, marking a stunning comeback, comprised her second New Hampshire. She remains behind in delegate votes, but she has stalled Barack Obama’s momentum — and momentum (Big Mo) can be crucial in presidential contests. A persisting question: To what end? Obama likely will regain Big Mo next week in Mississippi and Wyoming, giving him five weeks to work on eroding her opening lead in Pennsylvania — a state perhaps more Ohio than Ohio.

Senator Clinton achieved her latest comeback by re-galvanizing the traditional Democratic coalition: labor, interest groups, party stalwarts, key minorities and women — especially those single and/or working. She did not attack Obama on many issues, because on the issues there are few substantive differences between them. Rather, she prevailed by making Obama the issue. Late-deciders in Ohio and Texas, having been forced to focus on him, moved heavily toward her.

If she continues to do this successfully, she may yet become the nominee. Late Tuesday, she repeated that the presidency is not a place for on-the-job training, and said the nation needs something more than high-tone words and cadenced, sonorous speeches. It needs, she said, solutions — someone with the ability to translate words into action, to wring reality from hopes and dreams.

Barack Obama:

Ohio and Texas, two more huge states Obama has lost (he has won primaries in none of the big ones except his home state of Illinois), invite the query whether he can close the sale. He has amassed mostly caucus victories in states on the margins of traditional Democratic strength. Senator Clinton has won nearly all the primaries in states forming the heart of Democratic electoral power. If he is not winning those states in the primaries, could he — would he — carry them in the fall?

So Obama’s Big Mo may have been not merely stalled in Ohio and Texas, but stopped. And the Clintons likely will raise the level of Obama scrutiny. If they expect to regain the White House they will have to contrast Obama’s rhetorical and behavioral histories — with potentially calamitous consequences should he become the nominee.

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

Be the first to read Ross Mackenzie's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.