March 4 Will Determine Whether Clinton Will Go Forward or Not, Aide Says

When the dust settles after next Tuesday’s election battle in Texas and Ohio, Hillary Clinton will know “whether to go forward or not” in the quest for the White House, in the opinion of one of her top campaign strategists.

Harold Ickes made the remark in an interview with political print journalists Monday as Clinton’s campaign faces the daunting task of reversing the trend of Democratic rival Barack Obama, who has now won 11 straight primary contests.

After making the argument that media are showing favoritism toward Obama, Ickes made a rare acknowledgment from within the Clinton campaign: her odds are shrinking.

“I think if we lose in Texas and Ohio, Mrs. Clinton will have to make her decisions as to whether she goes forward or not,” Ickes said, adding the slight caveat “as she has at the end of every other state,” according to the Christian Science Monitor.

But Ickes, who joined Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer for the chat with reporters, was optimistic about his candidate’s prospects next week. Clinton and Obama are debating Tuesday night in Ohio, their 20th debate since the campaign season began.

“My view is based on our best judgment at this point, that she will close the gap as a result of those four states on the 4th, but she will still be running behind,” Ickes said.

“We’re on the way to locking this nomination down,” he said at another point. Obama leads Clinton in the delegate tally 1,362 to 1,266.

Obama also is making a move in Ohio and Texas polls, states where Clinton once held strong leads.

In a Quinnipiac University poll of 741 likely Democratic voters, Obama narrowed a 21 -point margin in Ohio on Feb. 14 to a 9-point deficit in a Feb. 18-23 poll. Obama trailed Clinton 41 percent to 50 percent. The RealClearPolitics average or recent polls in the state puts Clinton ahead by 8.6 percentage points.

In Texas, Clinton’s lead has diminished even further. In a Feb. 24 poll by Rasmussen Reports, Clinton leads by only one percentage point: 46 percent to 45 percent. And 9 percent remain undecided, well within the 4 percent margin of error.

And according to a CBS/New York Times poll released Tuesday, Obama has widened his position nationally against Clinton to a 16-point lead. The Feb. 20-24 poll of 1266 nationwide adults — 1,115 registered voters — showed Obama had 54 percent of Democratic primary voters, and Clinton had 38 percent.

An Associated Press/Ipsos poll puts the two in a virtual tie nationally with Clinton taking 43 percent and Obama 46 percent — within that poll’s margin of error — but the survey showed that Obama is making strides in Clinton territory: white men and self-identified liberals.