Salena Zito

Gerow reminds us, however, that Hillary Clinton is tactically smart: “If she can take a breath, adjust, and re-evaluate the circumstances she is facing, Hillary can push back on her losses.

“No one should pine for her right now. This thing is still very much in play.”

Brabender, who faced his own branding challenges in strategizing for Pennsylvania’s former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum in 2006, says Clinton faces a real dilemma about going negative.

With limited time left and polling numbers dictating what a candidate is going to do, she may be inclined to try to push Obama’s brand toward the negative.

“If the ads start to become, ‘You know the real Hillary Clinton, but you do not know the real Barack Obama,’ she is taking on a certain amount of risk,” he explains.

That risk is that people may start to turn on the messenger instead of the message.

But Brabender does not see her having much of a choice. “The Clintons are pretty savvy political animals. They know what to do. I would personally not be shocked that she comes up with the conclusion that it is time to take the gloves off.”

Whether it is an attempt to re-brand herself, to cast a negative brand on Obama or to re-mix the expectations, you’d be making a fatal error to call this race a done deal.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.