When Hillary Clinton visits Pittsburgh tomorrow, "We're going to have a terrific rally at which we're going to announce some very important endorsements -- some local leaders' endorsements," Gov. Ed Rendell promises.
Accompanied on a conference call earlier today by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Clinton campaign strategist Mark Penn, Rendell made much of the Obama campaign's efforts to downplay the significance of a Clinton victory in Pennsylvania's April 22 primary.
Rendell and the other speakers hammered reporters with the contention that as Pennsylvania goes, so goes the nation. Pennsylvania, Rendell said, is "not a solid-blue state; this is a purple state." And Rendell suggested that it would be almost impossible for a Democrat to win in November without taking Pennsylvania.
By a happy coincidence, Clinton just happens to be leading in the state according to numerous polls. (Including a Strategic Vision poll released just today, which shows her leading Obama by 18 points.) And in order to win Pennsyvlania in a general election, Rendell contended, "We have to do well in the Philadelphia suburbs, and of course the city. But we also have to do well among conservative, moderate, blue-collar Democrats in the west. And I believe only Senator Clinton can do that in the fall."
She should get some help on that score tomorrow. Rendell did not reveal who the endorsements would be, but the smart money says that you'll be hearing from County Executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
What makes me say so? In part Rendell's own remarks (a portion of which you can hear by clicking here).
"I've talked to a lot of political leaders … and I think I've been helpful in getting them to sign on board for the Clinton campaign," said Rendell. And while he downplayed both his own influence -- "I don't believe there's any magic to having a governor endorse," he says -- he added that "to the extent that there are party organizations that have power to at least turn out the vote -- not tell people how to vote -- most of those are going to be wielded on behalf of Senator Clinton."
And with that, in some people's minds, Rendell just gave his champion the label of "Machine Candidate." Whether she wanted it or not.