August 27th, 2008
12:21 PM ET

Denver at the halfway mark: Investment choices

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/27/dnc.unity.jpg caption="Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, addresses the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Tuesday."]John King | Bio
CNN Chief National Correspondent

Think of the convention as a family budget: over four days, you have to make tough decisions about how to allocate your resources – in this case balancing the competing needs of unifying the party, more thoroughly introducing Barack Obama, and making the case against Republican John McCain.

So far, there is a mix of "spending" on all three of those goals, but the amount of resources dedicated to unity is telling.

The Obama forces contend, probably with good reason, that those in the convention hall will leave Denver united. But with polls still showing a high percentage of Clinton voters either backing McCain or declaring themselves undecided, the Denver investment in unity is aimed at winning back those watching at home who wanted a different outcome here.

Top Obama aide David Plouffe says there are many reasons to be hopeful despite polls showing essentially a dead heat. "We have more room to grow," is Plouffe's take. By that, he means McCain has the support of most Republicans already locked up, and that in camp Obama's view most of the "available" voters out there are either Democrats still not at peace with Obama as their leader and, again in the Obama camp's view, Independents who side with Democrats on most of the big issues.

There is ample polling data to back Plouffe's take.

But those same polls show lingering doubt about Obama's values and experience to serve as commander in chief.

Given those challenges, Scott Reed, who managed Bob Dole's unsuccessful campaign in 1996, looks at the Democratic convention as the halfway mark and says: "they are spending a LOT of capital on unity."

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. WA

    Bill and Hillary Clinton are a Class Act. It will be a sad day in America when they are no longer with us too empower our political arena.

    Today we have the opportunity to embrace their wisdom, knowledge and desire to reach out to all Americans with compassion, strength, and a positive view for our future. Together Bill and Hillary with Barack, Michelle and Joe will put an end to the ruthless, distatorship we've been under.

    Together they will restore our Nation, our world image give every America a chance at a decent life and a chance to see their dreams realized. GO BILL, HILLARY, BARACK, MICHELLE, JOE and JILL. These are the souls and the minds that will achieve greatness for all! GOD BLESS and Guide You as you Lead us Towards a New Tomorrow! No Way, No How, NO MCCAIN! YES WE CAN! YES WE WILL!

    August 28, 2008 at 9:28 am |
  2. J.V.hodgson

    Dear Mr. King,
    They have spent a lot of time on Unity because you guys kept saying there was no unity.
    Today you were proved wrong so please shut up, unless of course your desire (CNN's) is to be biased towards Mr. Mccain.
    I want balanced reporting not a continuation of your own "news" actually scandal now; of something that died today with HRC and Bills support and full party acclamation.
    Any contest of this type is adversarial by nature, get over it CNN: HRC and Bill have. It is now up to voters to decide what to do on this specific unity issue. You stirred the pot and its now concrete and impossible to stir only dump grenades... then again... thats about all you seem to do well, many on Obama and basically none on McCain.

    August 28, 2008 at 3:59 am |
  3. Lesley

    Sandy – very good points. My problem with this is that McCain graduated 894 out of 899 at the naval academy. He wasted the opportunity to learn what he should have been learning because he spent a lot of time partying (this is well documented and verified by the poor grades). He then continued his partying ways in flight school (with that record his father no doubt pulled strings to get him in) to the point where he once found himself in his plane at the bottom of the ocean and didn't know how to release the hatch on his plane to get out. He wound up punching it out. I do honor his service and suffering, but he's just not smart enough in my opinion to combine diplomacy with force. I believe he wants to become president to be able to fight wars his way. His statement that I know how to win wars is testimony to that. He has said he feels we could have won in Viet Nam if we had stayed there and has argued with the tactics used by prez Reagan in Lebanon and prez Bush in Iraq. I would feel better about him if he were running for the job of chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, if such a thing could be decided by voters, rather than POTUS. He is too narrow-minded in his view of military use of force.

    August 27, 2008 at 7:35 pm |
  4. Susan


    The Republican strategy has always been to make this election a referendum on Senator Obama. It appears to be working.


    August 27, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  5. Richard

    It appears that the Hillary-crats would like to see McCain elected so Hillary can run again in 2012. I am sure the GOP is loving this! The only problem with that is that they are starting a family fight that could put the GOP in the White House beyond Hillary's lifetime. This is something to really think about as we cannot afford 4 more years of a Republican president.

    August 27, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  6. Lesley

    I can understand voting for McCain over Obama if you think he has good experience and you like his policies, but I don't get it when people say they will vote for him because Hillary didn't get on the ticket. McCain and Hillary have completely different views, and, as she said last night, are you voting for me or my values? if it's her values, then please vote for Obama. It would be a complete "dis" of Hillary in my view to vote for McCain because he stands for nothing that she believes in or has worked her whole career for. She will no doubt be working as a cabinet member in a Dem White House and be able to do all of her good work. I'm sure she will provide leadership in the WH under a Dem administration.

    August 27, 2008 at 2:30 pm |
  7. sandy

    This in in reply to Richard's statement which I am referencing here,

    "There were alot of POWs in the Viet Nam War, unfortunately, but I am reasonably sure that the POWs were not taught how to be Commander-in-Chief. "

    Richard, have you ever personally known a POW? My uncle was a POW in Japan during WWII. Believe me that experience taught him more than you or I could learn in a lifetime. You have a lot of thinking time, a lot of hardships, a lot of life and death decisions to make, etc. and you probably learn more about humanity and what the lack of it is like) than 100 years of regular living can teach. Humanity is what our world needs and those who have totally experienced inhumanity are far more cognizant of that fact. I am not a McCain supporter because I do not adhere to Republican beliefs. However, I disagree with you on the above point. As a POW and the recipient of gross inhumanity he learned a lot of what a Commander in Chief should know. I also believe, contrary to your views, that his Navy training that qualified him to lead men into dangerous situations and to make difficult decisions are also very relevent to the Commander in Chief job.

    August 27, 2008 at 1:51 pm |
  8. Deborah Andulini


    I watched Senator Clinton"s speech many times because I actually recorded it. Yes, I did feel her to be the more experienced candidate for the office of president. At no time during her speech did Senator Clinton say that Senator Obama will make a great president and this with her I do agree. I saw her as making a very powerful and presidential speech to the American people. I, like many other supporters, will stay home on election day and I have always voted as a proud Democrat.


    August 27, 2008 at 1:27 pm |
  9. sandy

    All of that unity money and time could have been saved and invested in the other two areas with one different and better decision on Obama's part – Hillary for V.P. If he had made that decision this convention could have been the convention to end all conventions. It could have blown the Republicans so far out of the water that they never got a stroke back in – at least not with undecided Democrats and Independents. Instead Obama has torpedoed his own boat! Let's see if he can make it seaworthy.

    I'd like to see Joe Biden be the real hero and say, "I'm a great V.P. pick but Hillary is better. I refuse the nomination and ask for an acclamation of Hillary Clinton for V.P." Can you hear the convention floor roar!!!!

    August 27, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  10. Jonathan

    I think it would be great if the leaders of the Democratic Party – the Clintons, Obamas, Kennedys etc all stood together in unity at the end of the DNC. What a power visual of unity that would be!

    (A Canadian)

    August 27, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  11. JC- Los Angeles

    As an undecided Independent, it's growing increasingly obvious that Obama failed to unify the Democratic party prior to the convention

    Born leaders bring individuals together for the greater good of the collective whole; Obama's inability to achieve this strategic objective will have lasting effects.

    Personally, feel that Obama should have spent all four days at the convention allowing the American people to see him interfacing with his constituents.

    Obama's absence from the convention and his willingness to concede the floor to others is an egregious mistake; he's like the actor that appears in the last scene of a movie and wants an Oscar.

    Obama needed to be at the convention all four days; with bad weather forcast, it's the perfect metaphor for a disastrous convention.

    August 27, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
  12. Annie Kate

    I have concerns over Obama's experience but Joe Biden is very experienced, having been in the Senate about 30 years or so. Biden may actually see a more active role as Vice President than most in the past have had (Dick Cheney and Al Gore are notable exceptions).

    Unless there is a big upset at the convention (which I doubt) we have our nominees – buyers remorse is not constructive at this point if we want the type of change we have all been talking about so long now. At this point we need to get the candidate of our choice elected and then have faith and be willing to lend a hand.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 27, 2008 at 1:03 pm |
  13. Jason

    The republicans and their discontent for McCain will still come out and vote for him because they think he's the lesser of two evils. The democrats though, they'll remain split and would rather drive around with a bumper sticker that pouted "I wanted Hillary" than vote for someone with similar views on issues. How can you expect to beat your opponent if you keep losing to your allies?

    August 27, 2008 at 12:59 pm |
  14. Mike, Vietnam

    All good points John. Republicans have most of votes they will receive already, but Obama has many to gain from undecided voters who supported Hillary. He has talent to win those voters, he just need to effectively spread message like has been.
    Love your stuff John, keep up good work!

    August 27, 2008 at 12:56 pm |
  15. Richard

    I don't understand what makes John McCain so qualified to be Commander-in-Chief. I am sure the Navy trained him to be a pilot which qualified him to be a pilot, not Commander-in-Chief. There were alot of POWs in the Viet Nam War, unfortunately, but I am reasonably sure that the POWs were not taught how to be Commander-in-Chief.

    When he was visiting in Iraq, he was confused as to who the enemy was. Lieberman had to correct him as to who we were actually fighting in Iraq.

    Which ever candidate is chosen to be Commander-in-Chief, they will rely on many advisors. I am very impressed with Obama's choice in Joe Biden as one of his main advisors.

    August 27, 2008 at 12:52 pm |
  16. Michelle

    Mr, King that you so much for straight plan talk about politics,
    You have a unique way of explaining politics with buying into
    the spin. Which is hard since tv news seems to have bought
    into the left vs right junk.

    August 27, 2008 at 12:51 pm |
  17. Cindy

    What unity? I think the party is still split. Take a poll and see how many Hillary supporters will still vote for McCain this year. I bet it'll be higher than 27% as it is now even after Hillary's speech.


    August 27, 2008 at 12:36 pm |
  18. Lisa

    Okay, so some of HRC's supporters say that Obama doesn't have enough experience. My memory must be really bad because I think they said the same thing about Bill Clinton. Can someone please remind me what Bill Clinton's experience was? I know he was governor of Arkansas, but what other experience did he have? Thanks.

    August 27, 2008 at 12:27 pm |