Key Republican Gives Clinton an "Electability" Boost

Hillary Clinton's campaign has pounced on a statement by a key Republican in order to undermine the "electability" claims of her Democratic rival, Barack Obama.

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Hillary Clinton's campaign has pounced on a statement by a key Republican in order to undermine the "electability" claims of her Democratic rival, Barack Obama.

Clinton strategists are pointing to the remarks of Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday in which he said Obama would be an easier target in the fall campaign if he becomes the Democratic presidential nominee. Clinton strategists are using Cole's remarks as part of their effort to persuade "superdelegates" to side with Clinton because Obama would supposedly be a risky choice. In addition, the Clinton forces argue that many Democratic candidates would need to "disown" Obama's liberal policies in order to survive in their states or districts.

Most of the superdelegates are elected officials and other party leaders, and they could be pivotal in selecting the nominee because neither Clinton nor Obama is expected to gain a majority by convention time. Obama currently holds a small lead.

"I happen to think Hillary Clinton is a stronger candidate in the end," Cole said. "You couldn't raise money against Obama right away like you could with Clinton, that's true. and so maybe by the time you were able to raise money it wouldn't matter. But he's ideologically well to the left of Hillary Clinton, for all his rhetorical gifts, and I also think he's got a national-security deficit. I think she's a plausible commander in chief, and I don't think he is. It may not matter. But those two areas are where we would fight the election, and with McCain, I think we contrast with him very well."

—Kenneth T. Walsh