Too Little Too Late

Joe Klein writes in Newsweek that Wesley Clark’s campaign is finally gathering steam. That would be good news for Clark if it were September or August, but with the primary season looming, it’s clear that Clark would have to have a miracle to catch up.

New Hampshire is Dean’s race, no doubt about it. When you have a candidate running at 20%+ leads, you have a fait acompli on your hands. Clark is unlikely to pull much more than third in New Hampshire, and not by much. Which is why the Clark campaign has all but given up on that state.

Iowa is another key early battle, and that race is between Dean and Gephardt. Clark has also abandoned Iowa in his campaign, meaning that he’s virtually surrendered the early races to Dean. This is a political calculation that may come back to bite Clark as by the time South Carolina rolls around he’ll already be running well behind.

South Carolina is Clark’s must win state. If he loses South Carolina it’s over. What’s bad news for Clark is that Dean has pulled ahead in South Carolina. If Kerry does as nose-dive, he may be out of the race, which will help Clark, but that still doesn’t give him enough political momentum to out-fox the Dean Machine.

The fact is that Clark entered the campaign too late against a candidate who had a strong ground game running long before anyone else. Dean’s grassroots campaign was perfectly timed to take the angry Democrat vote and lock it – and that is the vote that represents the political core of the Democratic Party. Clark’s empty uniform supposedly represents "electability", but it won’t be enough to stop the Dean campaign’s unbeatable momentum. Unless something dramatic happens, whatever new spark may be in the Clark camp will be for nought.

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