False Modesty

Here’s the best part about the battle for front-runnership. Both candidates claim to have the delegate lead. (Obama says he’s ahead if you count only pledged delegates; Hillary says she’s winning if you include superdelegates.) But neither of them is willing to take credit for being the front-runner!

NBC’s First Read points out that in conference calls this morning, both candidates vied for underdog status.

Clinton strategist Mark Penn repeated several times that the Obama campaign is now the “establishment” campaign—citing superior January fundraising, high-profile endorsements, and even Sunday’s Super Bowl ad.

Fast forward to less than an hour later: In a press conference in Chicago, Obama maintained that he is still the underdog. “Senator Clinton is a formidable opponent,” he said, calling her organization a “political machine honed over two decades.”

“From my perspective, this makes her the frontrunner,” he added.

So, each candidate claims to be winning the delegate race—but not the actual race. It’s like two people standing in front of a door, each one saying, “No, you go first,” just so they can trip the other when she moves first.