Democrats Boost Money, Rolls; McCain's U.S. Tour
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And any debate in Congress is likely to be overshadowed by all kinds of conversations on the presidential campaign trail. Joining us now for some analysis is NPR News analyst Cokie Roberts. Good morning.
COKE ROBERTS: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Now, over the last few days, we've seen some prominent Democrats telling Senator Hillary Clinton that she should quit the race. What's going on there?
ROBERTS: Well, those prominent Democrats, like Vermont Senator Pat Leahy, tend to be Obama supporters. And obviously, it works for their candidate for her to get out of the campaign. She says she's in until the convention, and there has been, over the weekend, some concern in the Obama camp that they'd be seen as pushing her out of the race. And so the candidate himself has been quick to say that she should stay in. Let's give a listen to Senator Obama.
Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants. Her name's on the ballot, and she is a fierce and formidable competitor, and she obviously believes that, you know, should would make the best nominee and the best president.
ROBERTS: He was speaking in Pennsylvania, where he was campaigning over the weekend and where he's running behind, although he's doing well in a lot of other states that are still coming up. Now, not surprisingly, the Clinton campaign says it's good for the party for the campaign to continue. Former President Clinton told a bunch of California activists over the weekend that they should chill out, that the party is going to be just fine.
MONTAGNE: Well, what do you think? This is not just a protracted campaign, but it's also one where the two candidates are beating up on each other on a daily basis.
ROBERTS: And obviously, that does provide fodder for the fall campaign for the Republicans. But there is a big but here, which is that more and more and more voters are signing up as Democrats. So much so that there's - the AP has a story today that the states coming up are having trouble figuring out how many ballots to print because so many more voters have been showing up in Democratic primaries than ever before. And the money raising has been phenomenal, both the Clinton and Obama, especially Obama, but both of them have brought in millions and millions of dollars. So the challenge for the nominee, whomever he or she ends up being, will be to keep all those voters interested and active. But you can certainly make the case that this long primary campaign has been good for the party.
MONTAGNE: Well, on the flip side, is that hurting John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, or is it - this protracted campaign in some ways helping him?
ROBERTS: Well, it's giving him an opportunity to be opponent-free, at least in the press. But he's also almost disappeared in the press, and that's got its problems. And, you know, you have to understand that what's covered every day by us is not the same thing that voters are hearing out on the stump, because the voters hear the stump speech over and over and over again, and that is by both Obama and Clinton, a steady attack on McCain. So there's that going on. The fact that he's out of the news is also making it hard for him to raise money, even though he is ahead, or even in the polls he's having trouble with fund raising. The New York Times did an analysis of the big Bush givers, which shows that McCain is still having trouble attracting them.
MONTAGNE: Although Senator McCain is kicking off today a week-long tour of the country, series of speeches, could be good photo ops, at least, for him, and it could make him appear to be more of a statesman. Nobody's going to be attacking him on the Democratic side.
ROBERTS: Well, except they will be, you know, in their own meetings. And he'd be out talking about his biography, which certainly is impressive, but - and we'll see if it does anything to move him ahead. The problem he has is that having not yet captured the Republican base and gotten them excited, for him to get out and do his sort of general election strategy could be pushing them further away from him.
MONTAGNE: Cokie, thanks. NPR News analyst Cokie Roberts.
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