How big are Tuesday's primaries for Hillary Clinton? According to Politico.com executive editor Jim VandeHei, the contests in Ohio and Texas are everything. Not only must the Democratic presidential contender take both states, Vandehei says, but she'll need to post big wins in both states over rival Barack Obama in order curb his momentum.
The Clinton campaign could perhaps survive a loss in Texas, VandeHei argues. And if she gets only narrow wins in each, she'll almost certainly start hearing calls from Democratic Party leaders like John Edwards and Bill Richardson asking her to suspend her campaign for the sake of the party. But he says a defeat in Ohio would be a death blow to Clinton's campaign
"Whoever wins Ohio basically wins the presidency," VandeHei says. "That goes back 40 years."
Ohio is a true battleground state, a place Republicans or Democrats could win. With big numbers Tuesday, Clinton could wipe away a weary February and argue she's able to deliver tough states — and thus the presidency.
In recent days, Clinton has been joined in her attacks on Obama by the frontrunning Republican, John McCain. Their focus on Obama helps to set him up as the candidate to beat, in the primaries and in the general election.
But there's a fourth candidate. Asked if there was any sign of renewed life for Republican challenger and Chuck Norris pal Mike Huckabee after Dallas Morning News endorsed him today, VandeHei has one word: "Nope."
VandeHei says he thinks the former Arkansas governor is staying in the contest because he likes the attention and because he's laying groundwork for another race, another year. "For Huckabee, it's over," VandeHei says. "John McCain is going to be the nominee."