1). Jobs, Jobs, Jobs – Since this is a Pennsylvania debate, the economy should be the dominant issue tonight. I say “should be” because this is nationally televised debate, and ABC has been the worst offender among all of the networks at going for sensationalism over issues. The economy is Clinton’s strong suit in the state. (Voters favor her by 20% over Obama on this issue). Obama should counter by bringing up Clinton’s record of supporting free trade.
2). Bitter – No matter how tired we all might be of hearing about it, this is ABC so no one should be surprised if they lead with the flap over Obama’s comments right out of the gate. All Obama really has to do here is say in some fashion that he screwed up. Watch carefully to see if Hillary Clinton continues her pattern of overplaying her hand until the audience hates her for it. The interesting thing about this whole flap is that word bitter isn’t what bothered people.
It was the idea that they cling to their religion. PA is a state where liquor is sold through state owned stores that aren’t open on Sunday. (For that matter, neither are beer distributors). People here take their religion seriously, and didn’t seem to appreciate being characterized as clinging to it.
3). Closing the Deal – By every account Clinton is likely to win here on Tuesday. She leads in every part of the state except Philadelphia. Obama needs a superior performance to even think about opening the door for a possible win. The problem for him has been that he hasn’t been all that impressive in the debates. He does ok, and fights Clinton to a draw, but he needs more if he wants to win here, and knock out Clinton.
4). The Big Mistake – I suspect that both candidates will play it close to the vest tonight to try and avoid making the big mistake. In fact, no one should be surprised if this debate is a low key affair. I think that both candidates will stick to their talking points and avoid letting the debate deteriorate into a bicker fest.
Bickering is great for TV, but too much negativity turns voters off. Both campaigns know this, so don’t be surprised to see lots of sunshine and optimism out of both Clinton and Obama.
I’ll be back after the debate here at www.politicususa.com with a full wrap up.