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Five Days To Go

Hannah-Beth Jackson buttonholed me in Storke Plaza Thursday to offer her full and frank opinion of some statements in my column about the final days of the 19th state senate race in this week's print edition of the Independent.

I was taking a lunchtime stroll out of my office, located at the base of Thomas Storke's Greatest Erection, to have a look at the noontime "No on Prop. 4, No on Prop. 8" rally in the plaza. Jackson was on the hand to address the crowd and, finishing up a pre-rally interview with KEYT, she cut an angle towards me like a defensive safety barreling towards a blindside hit on a wide receiver.

"I need to talk to you about that piece you wrote," she said, in a voice suggesting she wouldn't be nominating it for a L.A. Press Club award.

The focus of her ire was my characterization of how she's responded, in her too-close-to-call race against Republican Tony Strickland, to his attack on her for participating in a controversial, closed-door caucus of liberal Democrats to discuss the state budget back in 2003, when both of them were in the Assembly.

The meeting, which took place amid that summer's budget standoff, was inadvertently broadcast on a squawk box throughout the Capitol; it became a political embarrassment for those involved, because it became public that they were discussing the political wisdom of delaying the budget as a way to try to force Republicans to go along with tax increases. One of those in the meeting suggested there might be political gains for Democrats if they "precipitate a crisis," while another member said, "Some of us are thinking that maybe people should see the pain up close and personal right now." Neither of those statements was made by Jackson.

In my column this week, I noted that both Jackson and Strickland at times have stretched the truth during the campaign, referencing a comment by Jackson at one their debates in which she flatly denied Strickland's charge that she took part in what he called the "secret meeting" on the budget.

"The daily fusillades of falsehoods, fibs, and fish stories (Strickland's brazen reinvention of himself as a guru of green energy and Jackson's feigned amnesia about an outrageous, secret budget confab of liberal Democrats during her Assembly years come to mind) offer a case study of why tit-for-tat politics turn off many voters."

On Thursday, Jackson complained I had done her wrong because, she said: a) the budget meeting was "private" but not "secret."; b) the meeting was not "outrageous,' but a routine caucus in which various strategies and issues were discussed; c) a transcript of the meeting shows that she did not make the controversial statements.

So noted.

Also on hand for the rally was Rep. Lois Capps, who has a considerably easier race than Jackson in her bid for re-election.

While upbeat as ever, Capps did express concern that if Obama runs the table of battleground states in the midwest, it could become clear that he'd won the presidency hours before the polls close in California, which might convince some voters to start partying instead of voting. While nothing like this is remotely possible among the voters of Isla Vista, such a scenario could prove costly if the anti-abortion rights Prop. 4 and the anti-gay marriage Prop. 8 prove to be close contests.

Obama's Second Transformation

Barack Obama's high quality half-hour infomercial on Wednesday was just the latest evidence that his campaign is transformative, not only because of his personal history-making role, but because its operations have used modern technology in unprecedented ways to communicate directly to voters.

Sarah Palin loves to blather on the campaign trail about bypassing "the filter" of the media (in the annoying manner of a rug rat who constantly repeats a word she thinks she has invented), but Obama has actually done it.

His campaign's use of the internet to raise about $700 million, much in small donations; its innovative methods in employing online social networks to build support; its volunteer armies that have registered hundreds of thousands of new voters; the extraordinary reach and depth of its multi-platform media campaign; and its expansion of the electoral map have all been extraordinary, from a nuts and bolts campaign perspective.

If presidential campaigns are viewed as the first test of how a candidate will govern, Obama has sent a strong message about his ability to put together an executive team that has planned, managed and executed a smart strategy with great competence. Of course, none of it will matter if John McCain and Palin pull off a last-minute upset with a couple of turnovers and big plays. As Al Davis famously said, "Just win, baby.'

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