01/18/08 — Who’s the boss? Primary campaigns seem to be dominated by group picks

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Who’s the boss? Primary campaigns seem to be dominated by group picks

Watching the primary battles and listening to the rhetoric of the moment is a lot like watching an episode of a soap opera these days — or Jerry Springer — lots of drama, lots of voices and bickering, but in the end, no clearer picture than when it started.

As the races continue to narrow, more and more polls are measuring which group is for which candidate and whose participation in the process will all but guarantee a seat in the White House.

So the candidates spout this policy and that rhetoric to prove that they are the candidate most representative of — Hispanic, women’s or black interests.

And boy does it get ugly.

The latest battle over which Democratic candidate really represents the interests of the black community follows close on the heels of the great “Who is the real Christian?” debate in the Republican ranks.

And while there is a lot to watch and listen to as the candidates scramble to collect primary wins, it brings up a question: Just whose voice should a presidential hopeful listen to if he or she is gunning for the top seat in Washington?

Perhaps the winner will be the person who figures out that issues cross racial lines and that substance still means something. A message that resonates with people might be a whole lot better than declaring yourself a special interest group’s “pick of the primary.”

Getting past the primaries is a matter of survival — keeping yourself a people’s candidate as much as possible while still getting passionate supporters to the polls. So the finger-pointing and claims of allegiance will continue.

What will be interesting is to see which candidates are able to turn these alliances into a message that makes sense to all voters. The ones who do will have the best chance of moving into the White House in 2009.

Published in Editorials on January 18, 2008 10:54 AM