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Clinton takes the bait on Cuba
Yesterday we wondered how Hillary Clinton would respond to Barack Obama's op-ed in the Miami Herald calling for easing restrictions on the US embargo of Cuba. Today Beth Reinhard and Lesley Clark provide the answer:

Rival Sen. Hillary Clinton said she would continue the Bush administration's hard-line stance, for the most part. Clinton's campaign said she agrees that exiles should be able to freely send money to their relatives but said she does not favor ''any wholesale, broad changes'' to the travel restrictions until Fidel Castro falls. Clinton did vote with Obama in 2005 -- unsuccessfully -- to ease restrictions on family travel in ``humanitarian cases.''

''She supports the embargo and our current policy toward Cuba, and until it is clear what type of political winds may come with a new government -- if there is a new government -- we cannot talk about changes to U.S. policy,'' Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said.

Obama was more or less daring Clinton endorse the current US policy toward Cuba, knowing that it might cost him votes in Florida but would also serve to reinforce the broader theme of his campaign as a "change of direction."

Clinton took the bait, giving Obama exactly the line he wanted: "she would continue the Bush administration's hard-line stance."

Yet at the same time, Clinton got what she wanted, which was to take the opportunity to get an even firmer grip on Florida and to reinforce her image as an experienced, hard-nosed realist unwilling to engage in speculation or hypotheticals.

(Incidentally, a backdrop to the entire discussion is whether Florida will be stripped of its convention delegates for moving its primary up into January in violation of DNC rules.)

The line between the Obama and Clinton candidacies has always been "experience" versus "change" - a cliche that Tony Blankley challenges very effectively this morning, by the way - but while the distinction had been a bit fuzzy for the first six months of the campaign, it has really come into focus during the last few weeks.

Obama and his advisors thoroughly believe this is a "change" election, and they will continue to push that message out in all directions at every possible opportunity. The Clinton campaign also recognizes the change dynamic present in this year's electorate, but is betting that voters in the primary and the general election value the idea of experience a great deal as well, in addition to wanting to satisfy a basic urge for change.

If the national and state polls mean anything, as of right now Hillary Clinton appears to be winning the battle - but there's obviously still a long way to go.

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