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A wave may overcome the Clinton juggernaut

The bruising primaries of Super Tuesday are over. While bitterly divided Republicans have produced a clear front-runner in the maverick Senator John McCain, the extraordinary Democratic campaign to elect the first woman or black U.S. President has produced a stalemate.

More states chose Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton won more votes. The delegate count, determined by myriad proportional and super delegate rules that differ from state to state, put Clinton ahead by such a small fraction that the race appears too close to call, or is it? Might there be some clues in the Super Tuesday results that point toward an eventual winner in the protracted struggle for the Democratic nomination?

Unlike the Republicans, who are sharply divided philosophically between a diehard rigid base and more pragmatic centrists, the Democrats agree so closely on the direction where they would lead that they have to create their policy differences out of the stuff of style. Being right counters being ready to lead on day one; mandated health care slashes against health care affordable for everybody.

But the real struggle is between Obama's wave of the future and the juggernaut that the House of Clinton built. As we have seen in recent weeks, the future candidate has been drawing stadium-sized crowds, while the former first lady has been drawing on a network of support and nostalgia that only a presidency can create.

The juggernaut and the nostalgia have propelled Clinton, despite her ability to divide and inspire Republican hatred. Obama's message of healing America and his appeals to everyone to help have fired up millions, particularly young voters.

The critical issues which bubbled just below the surface of the campaigns a month ago are clearer than ever now. Race and gender are out in the open and playing a strong role in some races and a determining one in others. Character assassination has been put aside in the Democratic race for now, because the Clinton campaign discovered that it did not work.

Although the Republican candidates have bared fangs at each other, they have laid off Hillary because they dearly want her to win the nomination so they can rip her apart later.

Money is as important as ever; even though the Republican results on Super Tuesday seem to defy this maxim, the Democrats will confirm it. Obama raised more than US$30 million in January compared to Clinton's US$13 million. He needs it to spread his wave of change and "Yes we can" across the rest of the country, while Hillary must have it to show she can win.

The money issue is why Obama is non-committal right now about more debates. Why give Hillary free publicity? His particular strength is organizing and drawing huge and wildly enthusiastic crowds, and he has enough money to do it.

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