The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal’s world-wide newsbox all lead with the fallout from Tuesday’s primaries. Sen. Hillary Clinton was already facing an uphill battle, but she awoke yesterday to a decidedly changed mood and a growing feeling that her quest for the nomination is simply a lost cause. Many are already referring to Sen. Barack Obama as the presumptive nominee. “Suddenly, a primary day that few expected to be decisive in the Democrats’ long and close contest was interpreted on all sides as a game-changer,” notes the WSJ. But Clinton vowed to stay in the race, and in order to quell any doubts about her determination, she campaigned in West Virginia, where she assured reporters that she’ll keep going “until there is a nominee.” Her advisers also publicly dismissed the idea that there had been any discussions about dropping out.
USA Todayleads with Pentagon records that show how, since 2003, more than 43,000 U.S. troops were sent to Iraq or Afghanistan even though they had been deemed medically “non-deployable” in the weeks preceding their departure. This is seen as yet another example of how the military is short on troops. It’s difficult to assess the gravity of the situation because the Pentagon doesn’t list what the medical problems consisted of or how severe they were. A servicemember could be included in the category for simple problems, such as the need for eyeglasses or allergy medication, and they might have been resolved before most deployments. But there are at least a few soldiers who had to be sent back home because their medical problems proved to be too severe for a war zone.
In a sign of Clinton’s growing financial troubles, her advisers confirmed that she had lent her campaign $6.4 million in the last month, on top of an earlier $5 million infusion from her personal coffers. Though previous signs of financial trouble had brought cash into the Clinton campaign, the NYT says that even her advisers expressed concern that her online fundraising efforts aren’t going as well as in the past. Meanwhile, some of her supporters are also expressing doubts about whether there’s a path to victory. Everyone points out that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a big Clinton backer, said that she wants to “get her view on the rest of the race and what the strategy is.”
In an interview with USAT, Clinton said she would be a better candidate against Sen. John McCain because she has a “much broader base to build a winning coalition on.” She went on to say that an Associated Press article “found how Sen. Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.” Clinton insists, “There’s a pattern emerging here.”
For his part, Obama took the day off yesterday and spent time at home in Chicago. The LAT notes inside that Obama will begin to implement a new strategy that involves ignoring Clinton and acting like the de facto nominee. Although he won’t abandon the primary campaign and still plans to make appearances in the states that will go to the polls in the next few weeks, he might also decide to take detours to important swing states that have already voted, such as Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
The WP asks a provocative question on Page One: “Did Rush Limbaugh Tilt Result In Indiana?” There’re some interesting data, but the answer seems to be decidedly uninteresting: probably not. Limbaugh urged his listeners to take part in “Operation Chaos,” which involved voting for Clinton “to bloody up Obama politically,” and since the former first lady’s margin of victory in Indiana was so small, some are wondering whether it had any effect. Clinton did hold an edge over Obama among Republican voters, and the most interesting fact is that approximately 60 percent of Republicans who supported the former first lady said they would vote for McCain in November even if Clinton were the nominee. But ultimately, her margin of victory among Republicans was significantly smaller than her overall edge with white Democrats. For what it’s worth, Limbaugh called off “Operation Chaos” yesterday because he now thinks Obama is more vulnerable than Clinton.
The WP, NYT, and LAT all front the latest from Burma, where the top U.S. diplomat said the death toll from the cyclone could reach 100,000. Some aid began to arrive, but frustration keeps on increasing among foreign governments and relief organizations who say they’re ready to launch a full-scale operation, but their efforts are being stymied by the country’s military leaders, who are reluctant to let outsiders into the notoriously closed-off country. Actually, frustration doesn’t even begin to describe what people around the world are feeling as the military junta seems willing to do everything in its power to let the suffering continue. Meanwhile, teams from several governments and numerous agencies are standing by in Bangkok just waiting for the go-ahead.
The NYT points out that France’s foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, said “it would only take half an hour” for French boats and helicopters to reach the worst-hit areas, but the Burmese government isn’t allowing them to proceed. The impatience has grown to such a degree that Kouchner proposed that the United Nations should invoke its “responsibility to protect” doctrine and simply ignore the government’s wishes. The idea was shot down by others who said it would make the situation worse. Meanwhile, those on the ground continue to describe horrific scenes of survivors surrounded by bodies and animal carcasses, which, along with a general shortage of clean water, is raising fears that an epidemic could break out.
The NYT fronts, while the WP and LAT go inside with, the increasingly desperate situation in Zimbabwe. The Post reports that gangs loyal to President Robert Mugabe beat 11 opposition activists to death this week. The LAT reports that the main opposition party says 24 of its members have been killed since the controversial March 29 elections. On Friday, Zimbabwe’s election commission finally announced the results of the presidential election, saying that although the opposition leader had won, it wasn’t by a large enough margin to avoid a runoff. Now the ruling party seems ready to do everything it can to quiet any voices of opposition.
The NYT notes that teachers and aid workers are now being targeted, which means “the widening net of intimidation now appears to be taking a toll on children too.” Many schools have closed, and more than 100 of them are being used as bases of operations for the gangs that are attacking opposition members in the countryside. A member of the ruling party’s leadership made it clear to a reporter working for the NYT that the party won’t be kicked out of power by the elections. “We’re giving the people of Zimbabwe another opportunity to mend their ways, to vote properly,” he said. And if the majority votes for the opposition? “Prepare to be a war correspondent.”