Turning Obama Into Kerry

A campaign blog.
Jan. 11 2008 6:31 PM

Turning Obama Into Kerry

Hillary Clinton proposed a $70 billion* economic stimulus package today that would help families facing foreclosures, subsidize home heating, and create jobs in the energy sector.

No shocker there. Economic issues are taking center stage as the Nevada caucus and Michigan and South Carolina primaries loom. Nevada has been hit with a huge number of home foreclosures. Michigan is suffering an economic crisis, with a third of Detroiters living below the poverty line. South Carolina’s unemployment rate, like Michigan’s, exceeds the national average.

But here’s the way Politico described her strategy:

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The plan is part of the senator’s appeal to voters who need a president, as opposed to the more upscale Democrats where Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has won substantial support.

Seeing as John Kerry just endorsed Obama, it’s worth asking: Is Clinton trying to make Obama look like Kerry? Not the progressive war hero Kerry of Democratic lore, but the effete, "French-looking", Heinz fortune-funneling Kerry painted by his Republican opponents.

Obama isn’t a Massachusetts liberal and he didn’t marry into money. But he has begun to attract the same "upscale" accusations that plagued Kerry. On the trail, John Edwards pointedly declares he isn’t running for "academic" reasons, implying that some people are. In Hillary’s new youth outreach video , one questioner says all her "law school friends" are voting for Obama. In the New Hampshire primary, Obama did better among Democratic voters who make over $50,000; Hillary did better with the under $50,000 set. He’s the "wine track" candidate , Hillary is the "beer track" candidate.

A union-powered victory in Nevada could do a lot to counter this perception. Obama might also consider coming out equally strongly on the housing and jobs fronts in the coming weeks. But if that doesn’t work, the curse of Kerry could haunt him as the crucial Feb. 5 vote approaches.

*UPDATE: Correction, 3:27 p.m.: OK, OK, we asked for it . This item originally referred to Hillary Clinton’s economic stimulus package as a $70 program.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

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