As John Heilemann explains, that “kitchen sink” Hillary Clinton threw at Barack Obama turned out to be pretty effective. Despite polls showing Ohio residents believed by wide margins that she attacked him unfairly rather than the other way around, Hillary spanked Obama by double digits in Ohio and eked out a popular-vote win in Texas. But it wasn’t just her red phone ringing at 3 a.m., kvetching about back-channel NAFTA assurances, and pushing the media to interrogate Obama about Antoin Rezko.
Barack Obama must be wondering how the worst press he’s received practically all campaign season came down just before today’s primaries — his chance to close the deal. He can look inward for answers. The big story, of course, is the meeting an Obama advisor, Austin Goolsbee, had with a Canadian official about NAFTA. After Canadian TV reported that Goolsbee had assured the Canadian official that basically all Obama’s tough talk on NAFTA was political maneuvering, the Obama campaign denied the meeting ever took place. Then, on cue, a Canadian memo surfaced confirming that the meeting did take place. The Obama campaign’s evasive answers and qualified denials have failed to placate a press corps determined to prove they’re holding Obama accountable. At the same time, a former Obama supporter, Antoin Rezko, begins his trial in Chicago for influence peddling. While nothing unethical or illegal has been proven about Obama’s relationship with Rezko, the fact that new details are still emerging raises doubts about Obama’s previous claims that he has divulged everything about their association. None of this meshes well with Obama’s claim to be running on a new kind of politics, and, from looking at the polls showing a Clinton rebound, voters are taking notice.