Good evening and welcome to a liveblog of tonight's Kinda Super But Not Really Tuesday Primary in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, Vermont but especially Ohio and Texas...mainly Ohio (Texas, also). Here's what we know so far. Obama and McCain have won Vermont. McCain has also won Ohio. Ohio is too close to call on the Democratic side. Rhode Island is too small to be seen on the average map of the United States. The Texas Primacaucury is STRAIGHT UP WACKADOODLE. Nobody will win tonight. Also: nobody will lose (except Mike Huckabee).
Will this be interesting to read? I hope so. Tonight you find yourself at a bit of an advantage, because we are blogging live from the Washington, DC domicile of Ana Marie Cox, who is a time tested brand of political humor. I will be able to overhear everything she says. Also, she's cooked some delicious pizza tonight. This will all help in some way!
As usual, please send me your thoughts and observations and criticisms to my email address. DO NOT CALL ME AT 3AM! Your kids will have to fend for themselves.
It's 8:49pm now, and we're gearing up for the latest conference call from the Clinton campaign. Right now, they are relating some "disturbing news" that is "truly an outrage." Basically, they are accusing Obama supporters of "seizing packets" and "walking Clinton supporters past voting sites." They've received "hundreds of calls" and have "identified witnesses." They also are saying that Obama partisans have "locked out" Clinton supporters from participating.
That's the general gist. What will the campaign do about it? "All options are open," apparently, including a tactical nuclear strike.
Now some Obama campaign official (they are named Bob) is on the call and Howard Wolfson is sort of losing his mind. "Bob" basically filibusters the next ten minutes of the call as he and Wolfson yell at each other while pretending to be nice.
Meanwhile, all the rest of the states on the Democratic side are too close to call. Obama is up in Texas. Clinton is up in Ohio.
Mike Huckabee, by the way, has accepted his fate and some sort of congratulatory address is in the offing. "The writing is on the wall," says a Huckabee aide. Religious iconography until the end...
"Bob" turns out to be Bob Bauer, by the way. Better know your Bobs! He'll be calling Clinton tonight at 3AM to yell at her, too, probably.
Oh, and hey. This just in. John McCain is now officially the "presumptive nominee" of the Republican party. Meanwhile, reporters are yelling at Clinton staff about who got locked out of what caucus when. You have to sort of hand it to the GOP: they know how to stage themselves an orderly bloodbath. Meanwhile, the Democrats crazy primary system continues its Sisyphean march to certain oblivion.
Ana: (summarizing Wolfson) "So, basically, if Hillary wins Texas, we're not going to worry about all these allegations."
Mike Huckabee did manage to beat Mitt Romney in the delegate count. Sorry about that, Captain Silver Medal!
It's now 9:15 and I'm just putting this out there: Is it just me, or does Chris Matthews' pronunciation of the word "nominee" irritate the heck out of you? The word is "nom-i-NEE." He pronounces it "NAH-minny." Like "hominy."
Mike Huckabee is on stage right now, comparing himself to George Brett. Which means someone needs to check him right now for pine tar. True to his word, Huckabee is bouncing now that the math is officially against him. "Senator McCain has run an honorable campaign because he is an honorable man," says Huck.
Huckabee calls for party unity, and thanks the crowd for "insisting" that they run a collegial, friendly race. It begins a contrast with the Democratic side of the coin, where tension and anger roil.
It's 9:22 and Rhode Island has been decided in Hillary's favor. Obama's winning streak is officially over. At issue: how big will the margin be?
Some woman apparently sold her wedding ring to make a contribution to Huckabee! That's...sort of...wrong. Hopefully, Huckabee can get her something nice the next time he's down in the Caymans on a speaking tour.
Huckabee: "It's time to press the reset button. Sometimes when the computer stalls, you press the reset button." Yeah...back when we had Commodore 64s. He then describes the last days at the Alamo - at great...great...length - as if to remind us that we will all, one day, know the honor and the glory of being killed by Mexicans.
More details about those allegations of "packet grabbing" (as well as a description of what that means) can be found at Marc Ambinder's blog, who states: There's nothing the state party can or will do. They're overwhelmed at the moment...the Clinton campaign knows it will be seen as obstructionist if it utters the word "lawsuits"...Objectively, the process seems very messy and the state party seems in over its head."
Governor Ed Rendell just stated that Hillary Clinton is "beloved in the Greater Scranton area." "I don't even have a joke to add to that," says Ana.
John McCain is accepting the nomination, and he's wearing a tie that is causing the teevee to freak out. It's like a mini-acid trip. Cindy McCain is standing placidly by his side. I have a feeling that if she continues to join McCain at the podia again and again, she's going to earn herself a Kristin Wiig lampoon on SNL, and that will be the end of that.
SHORTER MCCAIN ACCEPTANCE SPEECH:
I will pander to conservatives by reciting some Goldwaterian cant. We will make a new history. We will improve conditions and create new realities. Set a course for adventure! Your mind on a new romance! The Love Boat! [Johnny B. Goode plays]
Chris Matthews muses: "When the Republicans are in trouble, they go to a military man, like Ike, or William Henry Harrison." Yeah...that whole William Henry Harrison administration...that was ONE AWESOME MONTH for America. The guy got inaugurated in the rain and ended up with the worst cold in the history of the known universe. He came home with the sniffles and ended up dying of pneumonia, jaundice, septicemia, and pleurisy.
It's 10:12 and I'm just putting it out there: Can you imagine being a child, and having Howard Wolfson as your summer camp counselor, and how AWFUL that would be? The ugly sweater would be the best part.
Currently, Obama remains ahead in Texas but the lead has narrowed. Take that sentence, replace Obama with Clinton and Texas with Ohio. And in Rhode Island, Clinton has moved out to a whopping lead.
Outlook for a Huckabee Vice-Presidency? Karl Rove says no: "If you're John McCain, it doubles your trouble."
We are hearing now that the official tally from Cuyahoga County in Ohio will come in long after the terrorists call to congratulate Hillary on her win in Rhode Island: 4:30AM! Needless to say, I will not be awake at that point.
Brian Williams has now wasted about ten minutes of my life building to the following point: Running for President is less unpleasant than being tortured by the Viet Cong. He then advises that we'd all be wise to remember that. So I'm going to make a cross-stitch with those words and hang it on my wall. Thanks BriWi!
It's 10:34 and the Texas race is now tied. Tied! Okay, not exactly. Obama maintains a slight lead. Meanwhile, in Ohio, counting has not yet begun in Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo, and will maybe never ever start in Cuyahoga County.
Earlier tonight, by the way, Sean Hannity rattled off a list of things that he felt Obama needed to be "vetted" for, including: the "comments of Michelle Obama," an "examination of her thesis," flag lapel pins, meetings with members of the Weather Underground, his church, his pastor, and Louis Farrakhan. One thing on the list that stands out (and I mean, besides further michegas over Michelle Obama's thesis...I mean, can you just imagine how tedious THAT assignment is going to be) is the need to vet Obama's "black values system." That's right: his "black values system." Only Sean Hannity. Only Fox News.
Lisa Caputo is flacking for Hillary right now on teevee. Her big remark: the Obama campaign is now saying that delegates matter, which is a complete flip-flop from Super Tuesday, after which they talked about momentum. I know! Crazy! It's almost as if the Obama campaign realized that Clinton can drink the milkshake of momentum - DRINK IT UP! - and still not get enough delegates to win the race.
It's 10:52 and Ohio has been claimed by Hillary Clinton! So we won't be waiting until 4:30 after all! Chris Matthews says that in all likelihood, the Clinton campaign will crank up the celebration with all deliberate speed and turn tonight into a victory before the crazy Texas primacaucus steals her thunder - if in fact it does. (Speaking of, Clinton has gained a slight lead in Texas.)
Chris Matthews proves to be sage: the party is beginning at the Clinton rally, and MSNBC has deemed it "too noisy to speak with Andrea Mitchell." So: another accomplishment for the New York Senator!
By the way, if all percentages were to freeze right now, Clinton's net delegate gain would be twenty-five. That doesn't include whatever result comes out of Texas' magical election process. That's all based on Slate's delegate calculator, too, so take it with a grain of salt.
Andrea Mitchell just isn't having any of this Clinton victory party, she keeps bringing up the math, superdelegate armageddon, the possibilty of a Democratic defeat, 1968, Hubert Humphrey, et al. At last, she admits that tonight's result brought her "back from the dead."
There still seems to be a persistent drumbeat for Hillary to accept the math and pick an exit. I'm officially predicting that someone out there will draw a "go out on top" comparison between Clinton and Brett Favre, and in all likelihood, it will be Tim Russert. Really. Just you wait.
Okay, maybe not Russert: "In 48 hours, we'll go back to counting delegates, but for now, the euphoria of victory takes center stage."
11:22 - CLINTON: "As Ohio goes, so goes the nation. Well, the nation is coming back and so is this campaign. We're going on, we're going strong and we're going all the way."
11:24 - Clinton says that a Democratic nominee must win in battleground states. (Like Ohio.) She then lists all the states she's won, and, demonstrating an interesting bit of chutzpah, leads with Florida.
11:25 - CLINTON: (On Pennsylvania) "They want their chance to vote." It looks like we've punched our ticket for a few more weeks of this.
11:28 - Clinton mentions the 3AM phone call commercial! And then declares that she is looking forward to having a debate with McCain. So it looks like we've punched our ticket to some backroom at the DNC. Let's hope it's not the same room with the terrible lighting that Howard Dean keeps giving pressers in that makes him look like a ghoul with Fred Thompson lips. (Memo to the DNC: Seriously, guys...DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS.)
11:42 - Obama is in San Antonio, TX. "We are in the middle of a very close race...I want to congratulate Senator Clinton for running a hard race in the states of Rhode Island and Ohio...no matter what happens tonight, we have the same delegate lead as we did this morning and we're on our way to the nomination."
11:44 - If you haven't heard Obama's stories about being a community organizer, yet, turn on your TV! Now! Now! Or, heck, just wait for the Wyoming contest in four days.
11:47: Obama is setting the terms of the future as well. "In the coming weeks we will have a great debate with a man who served his country bravely and loves it dearly."
So, Obama gives no quarter with his speech, but, in perhaps a tiny acknowledgement of vulnerability, he doesn't launch into one of the lengthy stemwinders that have followed his victories. But the campaign continues.
Before we leave tonight, here's one last victory statement:
"My message of limited-government and upholding the Constitution has once again been endorsed by...conservative-minded voters...They understand and support the battle I have waged for thirty years to make the federal government smaller, to reduce wasteful government spending, to balance the budget, and to promote a foreign policy that always puts America first...Some Washington insiders would have you believe that Republicans no longer believe in the principles our country and party were founded upon, but the voters in my district have once again proven them wrong. The message of freedom is popular, and I will continue to trumpet it in Congress and across America as I fight on behalf of the conservative, common sense values which made our country so great."
That's Texas Representative Ron Paul, claiming victory in his U.S. House race, where he'll face no Democratic challenger. He's back baby! Ron Paul is the once and future King of Clute, Texas! Long may his blimp float! Goodnight, my pretties!