Clinton, Obama Shift from Heated to Warm
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
After a year of campaigning and 18 debates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are the last two candidates standing in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Over the next several days, the candidates will take the campaigns from coast to coast in anticipation of Super Tuesday. That's February 5th when 22 states will hold Democratic nominating contests.
NPR's David Greene and Don Gonyea have been traveling with the two candidates all week and join us now. Hello.
DON GONYEA: Hi, Renee.
DAVID GREENE: Hey, Renee.
MONTAGNE: So both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton wake up this morning here in Los Angeles having had their debate last night, where do they go from here? And, David, let's start with you.
GREENE: Well, Clinton is actually staying put. She's doing events today and tomorrow in San Diego, San Jose, Los Angeles - California, a really important state for her. I think she wants to wrap up as many delegates as she possibly can - New York her home state another delegate rich state that she's hoping to win.
GONYEA: Yeah. And if there's a sense that Hillary Clinton has an edge in California and New York - the big Super Tuesday states - Senator Obama is going elsewhere - New Mexico, for a couple of events today; Boise, Idaho, tomorrow. Also, over the weekend, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Chicago, then more next week.
MONTAGNE: And looking back to last night in the debate, it was cordial, friendly, a lot of smiles during this particular debate. Do we expect that to continue as the candidates go back to their respective campaign trail?
GONYEA: Well, we'll find out with Senator Obama, for sure, today. Now, it's worth noting that his rhetoric on the campaign trail in the past few days has been increasingly sharp. He's been saying things like electing Hillary Clinton would be going backwards. He took an old Bill Clinton phrase and turned it around and asked why we would want to build a bridge back to the 20th century.
So, it seems likely that such pointed comments will continue. I mean, the debate was downright chummy, it seemed. But there they are sitting side by side, elbow to elbow. And it's a lot easier to really go after your opponent and not come across as too aggressive or something worse when you're on the road all by yourself. It's part of a stump speech and you've got thousands of supporters cheering you on.
GREENE: You know, it's funny, we were watching the debate last night, and, Don, you'll probably agree with me. It would seem these two candidates were so friendly and cordial, but my e-mail inbox and my BlackBerry was just filling up with really tough and sharp e-mails from the campaigns going after the other candidate all night long.
GONYEA: It was overload. You couldn't read them all and watch the debate at the same time.
GREENE: Yeah. But, you know, Hillary Clinton, I think, came into the debate wanting to be much more positive. And I think she's trying to do that out on the campaign trail as well. I think there's still some lingering worry about the tone in South Carolina.
I was with Hillary Clinton the other night in Atlanta at an event - a National Baptist Convention event - where it was a largely African-American audience. Even some religious church leaders who support Hillary Clinton said they just weren't comfortable with some of the things that Bill Clinton said about Barack Obama in South Carolina. They thought it was much too negative. They felt race became much too big an issue. And, you know, it's funny, Hillary Clinton has acknowledged it. She said that Bill Clinton might have gotten carried away in South Carolina.
So, she seems to be much more positive on the campaign trail. Bill Clinton has been more subdued. And I think the challenge for Hillary Clinton is to try and paint Barack Obama as a novice and paint him as the less experienced candidate without tearing him down. And it's a tough balance to find.
MONTAGNE: So, given that the candidates are headed out now, up and down California, in Hillary Clinton's case, and across the country for both of them, they'll be needing to run campaign ads in all of these states. This is got to be getting awfully expensive, but I think these candidates have plenty of cash on hand.
GONYEA: It's going to cost a lot of money, and they have a lot of money. We just found out overnight that Senator Obama raised $32 million in January alone, that compares to what we thought was a big figure - 23 million for the entire fourth quarter of last year.
GREENE: And we don't know about January numbers for Hillary Clinton yet, Renee, but she raised a bit more than Obama in the fourth quarter of last year, about 27 million. And she has about $38 million on hand right now.
MONTAGNE: Thank you both very much.
GONYEA: It's a pleasure.
GREENE: Thank you, Renee.
MONTAGNE: NPR's Don Gonyea and David Greene in Los Angeles. They are traveling with the Democratic presidential candidates.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.