MEMO from Hillary Clinton for President

March 5, 2008

To:       Interested Parties
From:   Harold Ickes
            Mark Penn
Re:       The Path to the Presidency

With last night’s victories in Ohio and Texas, one thing is clear: the momentum has swung back to Hillary Clinton.  Voters in both states agreed that Hillary Clinton would be the best Commander-in-Chief and the strongest steward of our economy.  In fact, according to last night’s polls, those who decided who to vote for in the last three days overwhelmingly favored Hillary [CNN exit polls, 3/4/08].  It’s time for a second look.

1. Ohio is the barometer:  Hillary was successful in Ohio, the state that for the last quarter century has picked our president.  As everyone knows: As Ohio goes, so goes our country.  Historically, it’s one of the bellwether states and it decided the last election.   And the demographics of the upcoming contests in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky closely mirror those in Ohio. Hillary looks strong in all four states.

2. This race is extremely close and more than 5 million Democrats are likely to vote. After 28 million votes have been counted, the popular vote contest in the Democratic primary is within one-tenth of one percent.  Applying the same level of turnout to the remaining contests, there are still more than 5 million Democratic voters – 17 percent of the total – who are likely to participate in this contested primary race.  After 41 primaries and caucuses, the delegate count is within roughly 2 percent.
 HRC (% of total) Obama (% of total)  HRC Margin Remaining (total %)
Popular Vote (incl MI and FL) 13,422,321 (40%) 13,455,140 (40%)  -32,818 (-0%)  5,758,698 (est) (17%)
Total Delegates  1,486.5 (37%) 1,584 (39%)  -97.5 (-2%)  950.5 (23%)


3. In the primaries, Hillary has demonstrated that she is the best positioned candidate to carry the core battleground states essential to a general election victory -- particularly the large industrial states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and the critical swing contests in Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and New Jersey.

4. The vetting of Obama has just begun. The press has only begun to scrutinize Senator Obama and his record.  The corruption trial of Tony Rezko is getting underway this week, yet many questions about Obama’s relationship with him remain unanswered.  Hillary, on the other hand, has withstood fifteen years of substantial media and Republican scrutiny, including many months of sharper scrutiny as the front-runner.  If the primary contest ends prematurely and Obama is the nominee, Democrats may have a nominee who will be a lightening rod of controversy.

5. Several of Hillary's base constituencies (women, Hispanic, labor, elderly and under $75,000) are key to a Democratic victory in November.  Senator Obama has not brought these voters out in the same numbers.

6. The Red States:  The central strategic argument of the Obama campaign is flawed. Senator Obama argues that his success in Democratic primary contests held in long-time Red States means he will carry those states in a general election.  In reality, there are no “Red States” in a Democratic primary – there are only Democratic voters who live in Republican states and represent a small percentage of the general election population.

7. Hillary is the only Democrat with the strength, leadership, and experience to defeat John McCain.  Senator Clinton is seen as the best prepared to be Commander-in-Chief.

8. John McCain will diminish any perceived advantage Obama has with independents.  As has been widely discussed, one of John McCain’s key constituents is independents.  And against McCain, Obama will be framed by the Republicans as too liberal (he was ranked by the National Journal as the most liberal Senator); untested on national security; and vulnerable on issues that would make him unelectable in November.  These issues may be surmountable in a Democratic primary but will be an Achilles heel with independents in a general election.

9. The McCain Roadmap: McCain has already foreshadowed his campaign’s construct against Obama: His vulnerability is experience and judgment on national security.

10. Steward of the economy.  Hillary Clinton leads both John McCain and Barack Obama on the economy and health care.  In the latest LA Times/Bloomberg poll (1/22), Hillary leads McCain 52/28 on health care and 43/34 on the economy.

11. Florida. There is an additional reality that must be considered – the 1.75 million voters in Florida whose votes will not be represented at the Democratic convention.  How we handle this swing state will affect our Party’s potential of carrying it in November (Democrats lost Florida in 2004).  This is a state where the playing field was level – all of the candidates had their names on the ballot and none campaigned in the state.

12. Michigan.  Nearly 600,000 Democrats voted in Michigan, but right now their votes are not being counted.  Democrats barely carried Michigan in 2004 (by only 3% -- 51 to 48). If our party refuses to let them participate in the convention, we will provide a political opportunity for the Republicans to win both Florida and Michigan.  Recognizing their importance to Democratic success in November, Hillary has called for the delegates of both states to be seated at the convention.

13. Hillary has the money to compete. In February, the Clinton campaign raised approximately $35 million – averaging more than a million dollars a day.  This deep level of support gives Hillary the resources she needs to compete between now and the Convention.