Closing in on the Pennsylvania primary, it's no surprise that the principle topic of conversation on the talk shows this weekend was Hillary vs. Barack. Their surrogates were all over the place, and Ed Rendell made an intriguing point on Face the Nation about Obama's spending. Earlier in the race, Rendell had predicted a cakewalk for Clinton (who, at the time, was leading by double digits in the polls). "I had no idea that the spending would be at a record level," Rendell said of Obama's advertising expenditures. "I've always been a good money raiser, and I've put a lot of money on TV in the closing weeks of my campaign, but I never exceeded $1.2, $1.3 million. The Obama campaign, $2.9 million. You can't go anywhere in the Philadelphia region, you can't listen to TV for 10 minutes without seeing an ad. Given that level of spending, it's even overcoming what was a subpar performance in the debate by Senator Obama and a great performance by Senator Clinton." This is a point that transfers over to the general; as my colleague pointed out, Obama seems poised to break his promise to participate in public financing. McCain currently polls surprisingly well against the junior Illinois senator, but it will be interesting to see if his numbers can hold up against a $100-$150 million Obama media blitz in the campaign's waning months. David Brooks, meanwhile, pointed out the damage that this primary has done to Obama's image on Meet the Press. "It's been 15 months since he's been running, and the last three months have been different. … The tone of that conversation, believe me, is very different from the tone of Barack Obama's speech in Des Moines three months ago. And the campaign has changed him. And I think it's changed him in two ways, which has made him less inspiring for a lot of us who are not orthodox liberals. It's changed him because he seems like a more conventional politician, trading jibes about who's throwing which negative ad at each other, which is not particularly hopeful. And then he's become--as he's had to chase Democratic primary votes, he's become [a] much more orthodox liberal." Sam Donaldson warned of the damage a Clinton nomination might do to the Democratic party on This Week. "The Obama supporters, a lot of them feel that there's an entitlement there…it's not as if ‘I hope he wins, and we worked very hard and all of that.' It's ‘if he doesn't win, it's a cheat. There's something unfair about this.' Guys, grow up. This is politics." And Karl Rove was on Fox News Sunday; when asked to choose the tougher candidate, he gave the ever-so-slight nod to the junior senator from New York. "She is a more durable candidate who is better known and tougher to move; on the other hand, Obama is the untested candidate and can either perform extremely well, as he did in Iowa, or extremely badly, as he did in the debate last week. I would have to say that on points I'd give it to Clinton, but not by much."
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