NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

November 3, 2012

All bets off as race nears finish line

Bill Plante
Newburyport Daily News

---- — I had about finished with the news of the morning before Big Freddy showed up and said, “How you doing?” as he wedged his way into his side of the booth.

“At the moment, I’m trying to keep the space I had while you’re shoving the table,” I said.

“And a very good morning to you, too,” he said.

“So,” I said after he had settled himself, “we’re at the end of the race, what do you think?”

“What I think is all bets are off,” Freddy said.

“Why?” I asked

“Too much mud on the track,” Freddy said.

“From the hurricane?” I asked.

“That, for one,” Freddy said. “Major cleanup. Billions of damage. Boost for Obama on the scene showing the presidential colors by doing what Bush didn’t in New Orleans.

“Meanwhile, Bill Clinton’s pushing buttons for him.”

“What’s he got to do with it?” I asked.

“Clinton’s an unspent political force, and he’s making the most of it with Obama’s faithful for Hillary four years from now when she’ll need them if she runs,” Freddy said.

“They don’t really like each other, from all I’ve read,” I said.

“Liking’s got nothing to do with politics,” Freddy said.

“We’re talking political power brokerage here. Bill Clinton’s as good a high-stakes player as there is. He owes Hillary and he wants Obama to owe him. This race is going to be decided when they count the last vote — it’s that close, and Obama needs him like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie needs Obama for help to deal with the mess the hurricane made of his state.”

“Christie won’t back away from his support of Romney,” I said. “This was about a Republican governor and a Democrat president needing each other on common ground. Obama did what a president needs to do at such a time and so did Christie. People feel better when they see that kind of thing.”

“So, all things considered they both come up roses,” Freddy said. “But don’t kiss off what it does politically for both of them.

“Romney has to play second banana off stage getting what face time he can get on TV to say the right things about the losses in New York and New Jersey, while Clinton’s off accenting the positive for Obama and building negatives against Romney.”

“Which is a far cry from back when Obama and Hillary were having at each other for the Democrat nomination for president,” I said.

“That was four years ago,” Freddy said. “That’s a political lifetime. This is for when Obama goes to pasture four years from now, and Hillary gets to run for president with Obama’s supporters helping big time.”

”So you’re calling this one for Obama,” I said

“I said all bets are off,” Freddy said, “This one could go to the wire and it might wind up with the loser getting the most popular votes, but not the most in the Electoral College.”

“That would be a reach,” I said.

“Correct,” Freddy said. “Five hundred and thirty electors who represent the voters from their states get to elect the president.”

“And big states get more electors than smaller ones,” I said

“But you put them all together, and it’s possible the candidate who won with the most popular votes in the election comes up short by a smidgen or two in the Electoral College,” Freddy said.

“It gets complicated,” I said.”

So’s a horse race that ends nose to nose,” Freddy said. “That’s why they photograph them. If things stay as they are for the next couple of days, this one could make as much political history as Sandy has for hurricanes.”

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Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His e-mail address is plantejr@comcast.net.