Obama’s Hall Pass

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Also today Obama began running national ads on CNN and MSNBC, a buy that includes Florida. The Clinton campaign held an outraged conference call with reporters saying this violated the pledge not to campaign in Florida. “This calls into question whether or not Senator Obama meant the pledge when he signed it or if losing three primaries and caucuses in a row compelled he and his campaign to sacrifice part of their integrity,” former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack told reporters on the call “That’s hardly the politics of change that he’s promised and it raises the question what other promises and pledges he’s made to Democrats across the country that he’s going to keep.”

The Obama campaign responded saying the pledge was to the early states and the only early state left is South Carolina. “Both national cable networks told us it would be impossible for us to run advertising nationally that excluded only Florida,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. “For that reason we consulted with the South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler who told us unequivocally she did not consider this to be in violation of pledge made to the early states.”

Hillary’s folks were asked repeatedly if they consider the pledge broken and they plan on campaigning in Florida. They replied that they are “looking at all our options.” But unless they, too, get permission from South Carolina they cannot outright campaign in Florida without being accused of breaking the early state pledge — though presumably they are now free to run national ads there. “The pledge is the pledge and the rules are the rules. And they say no electronic advertising in Florida,” said Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee. “The Obama campaign had a choice — they did not have to place a national buy, they could have bought in individual markets. They made a strategic decision to include Florida.”

What next? A pass from the doctor to skip debates? Perhaps a note from governors to bypass certain state events?