CNN Sr. Political Analyst
Fmr. Presidential Adviser
As he heads toward a joint fundraiser with Hillary Clinton, this Thursday, Barack Obama is sure to come under more fire for his decision to reject public financing this fall. Much of it is deserved: he has clearly broken a vow on a matter of importance to many Americans.
Still, I think he showed a side of himself that voters needed to know was there. All along, there have been questions about whether he is tough enough to be President. He showed here that in the crunch he is no Bambi, that on a hard call, he has the inner will to prevail – even if he has to go back on what he has promised.
This is a longer argument, but in essence, our best Presidents have been those willing to reverse themselves and take the heat when it seemed necessary. It is not always attractive – and it isn’t attractive here – but it can be pretty darn important in the White House.
In this case, Obama could legitimately believe that his prodigious capacity to raise money can help to level the playing field with John McCain. Republicans have long shown they know how to raise money and use it effectively to bring down a Democratic candidate; while their coffers may be low now, who can guarantee that Republican oriented 527’s won’t fill them up this fall. Left unsaid so far is that Obama may also need extra funds to bolster himself as the first African-American nominee to run for President. As Washington Post poll yesterday found, 23% of respondents said that the race of a candidate was important in their decision – a sobering number.
Finally, we learned over the weekend, that with extra funds, Obama is planning a 50-state election strategy – a luxury no other Democratic could ever afford. It may not guarantee many more electoral votes, but if he does make it to the White House (and that remains a big if) it will sure help him with governing to have a grassroots organization in every state.
One other note, Cindy McCain is sometimes portrayed in the press as a Stepford wife who seems plastic and has little to say. That portrayal is actually unfair. If you want to know the real Cindy McCain, I recommend your reading the new Newsweek cover story. She emerges as a caring, independent-minded woman who has shown a great compassion for disabled children. It’s a very worthwhile read.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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