Hillary Clinton Deathwatch: The hospital story was right! And other good news for Clinton.

Down and on the way out.
April 8 2008 2:16 PM

The Hillary Deathwatch

The hospital story was right! And other good news for Clinton.

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An opportunity to grill Gen. Petraeus in the Senate, a favorable correction on her hospital story, and a bright new pollster bump Clinton's electoral chances up 0.4 points to 9.9 percent.

The spotlight today is on Gen. David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, who return to the Senate after seven months to update senators on progress in Iraq. But just as much attention will be focused on the three presidential candidates, who have no doubt been practicing their scowls in the mirror. Expect intense skepticism from both Clinton and Obama, but nothing on par with Clinton's inflammatory "willful suspension of disbelief" comment.

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So, remember the story Clinton was telling about the uninsured pregnant woman in Ohio who died after she couldn't pay a $100 fee that turned out to be false? It's actually true! The woman's aunt told the Washington Post yesterday that while her niece did get care at the O'Bleness Hospital, which had initially contested the story, she was turned down at another hospital since she couldn't pay the fee. Vindicated! (Well, sort of.) What's amazing is that Clinton couldn't get confirmation before telling the story—or before admitting last week that the story wasn't true, when it in fact was. What's worse, being wrong or being wrong about being wrong?

Meanwhile, Clinton's camp is treating Mark Penn's resignation like morning in America. His replacement, pollster Geoff Garin, charms the pants off the New York Times today, promising a new direction for the campaign. Compared with Penn, this guy is George Clooney. Today on CNN, Clinton turned Penn's departure into a shot at Obama's economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, who is still with the campaign after the flap about downplaying Obama's NAFTA plan to Canadian officials. She didn't mention that Penn is, as well. But the story ain't over: The Obama campaign hosted a conference call with James Hoffa, pushing the Clintons to dismiss Penn altogether.

Clinton also led the way yesterday in calling for a boycott of the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. Obama has said he's "hesitant to make the Olympics a site of political protest because I think it's partly about bringing the world together." This is old territory for Clinton—she was the one to tell Beijing in 1995 that "women's rights are human rights"—and she's smart to get out front, given how much political oxygen the Olympics will consume in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the polls are still conspiring against Clinton. A new Quinnipiac poll—considered to be one of the more reliable surveys—puts Clinton at 50 points in Pennsylvania, with Obama trailing at 44. That's three points narrower than the last survey, in late March, which had Clinton at 50 and Obama at 41. Meanwhile, Obama looks stronger than ever in North Carolina; a Public Policy Polling survey has him leading Clinton by 21 points. Bill must regret saying that North Carolina is a must-win for Hillary.

On the superdelegate front, Clinton picks up a newbie—a land commissioner from Arkansas. No surprise there—she now has 11 of the state's 12 supers. A Montana superdelegate endorsed Obama yesterday but then retracted, saying state party rules prevented her from endorsing in a contested race. That hasn't stopped three other Montana supers from going for him. But one of them, Jeanne Lemire Dahlman, pulled a Corzine and reserved the right to switch to Clinton if she wins the popular vote.

Tomorrow: the Petraeus aftermath!

For a full list of our Deathwatches, click here. For a primer on Hillary's sinking ship, visit our first Deathwatch entry. Send your own prognostications to hillarydeathwatch@gmail.com.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.