Hillary Clinton has emerged as a far better candidate than Barack Obama and is riding a strong wave of momentum because of her victory in the Pennsylvania presidential primary yesterday, says top Clinton strategist Geoff Garin.
The longtime pollster told U.S. News, "She has been hitting her stride. He is a little bit off his stride." Garin said that as the Democratic race proceeds to Guam, Indiana, and North Carolina in early May, Clinton will only get stronger and will impress both voters and "superdelegates" with her tenacity and savvy.
Garin argued that by early June, when the final nine nominating contests are over, the race will be "very, very close" in both delegates and popular vote in the caucuses and primaries.
At that point, party leaders will be focused not on any numerical "matrix" but on the "qualities of the candidates" and what it will take to win in November, he said.
And Clinton is emerging as "far more clear, far more articulate, far more compelling," her senior adviser argued.
Garin outlined Clinton's next steps in her come-from-behind campaign: compete fiercely in the remaining nine contests and make the case to the nearly 800 superdelegates—elected party officials and activists who might hold the balance of power in the nomination fight—that she can best defeat Republican candidate John McCain in the fall.
Garin said Clinton has now demonstrated that she can "put it all together" for the general election. He added that if the disputed results of the Florida and Michigan primaries are counted, Clinton will be ahead of Obama or virtually tied with him in popular votes by the end of the primary process.
Of course, the Democratic National Committee has disqualified those two states' delegates because the primaries were held too early, in violation of party rules, and it's unclear how or whether the dispute over the delegates will be resolved.
Clinton, who won both primaries, wants to count both the delegates and the popular votes. Obama doesn't want to count either, arguing that Florida and Michigan broke the rules.
—Kenneth T. Walsh