FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Barack Obama's campaign up to this point has been refreshing. He seems almost too nice to be running for political office. His message has been about hope and change and a future filled with the hard work of restoring the greatest nation on earth to its rightful place as a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.
And it's a strategy that has propelled him to the front of the race for the Democratic nomination. But his failure to seal the deal this week in Ohio and Texas may bring change.
Hillary Clinton landed some body blows in the hours leading up to Tuesday's voting. An ad about a 3am phone call that preys on women's fears for the safety of their children. Questions about indicted real-estate developer Tony Rezko and Obama's position on NAFTA didn't help either.
Now Obama is starting to reciprocate, questioning what kind of foreign policy experience Hillary Clinton actually has and pointing out that she wasn't negotiating treaties or handling crises.
Obama has dubbed Clinton the "most secretive politician in America today." He's criticizing her for not releasing her income tax returns after saying she would do so "earlier," and calling on her to release records about her years as First Lady. She hasn't done that either, and Obama says that voters deserve to know why Clinton is hiding information.
The Clinton campaign doesn't seem too happy that Obama is starting to fight back. Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson was whining that Obama is acting like Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor who investigated the Clintons.
Here’s my question to you: Does Barack Obama have to go negative to win the Democratic nomination?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Not yet. And only if he has to in order to avoid defeat. Barack has put Hillary in a really bad position despite her wins this week. It’s like a game of chess, he is approaching the end game where she will be checkmated. He can afford to be patient and let Hillary end this on her own terms and in her own way.
Hillary's campaign doesn't get it. Many Democrats want change in Washington. That's the attraction with Obama. Hillary's team knows exactly what they are doing. The 3am phone call, Obama in the Muslim outfit...it is all desperation tactics and many Democrats don't like it. Yes, Obama needs to get a lot tougher with Hillary, but do it in such a way that is effective without going too negative.
Does Barack need to go negative or down in the dirt with the Clinton slash and burn machine? No. He does need to show that he has the mettle to push back and as we trial lawyers say, put the other side to their proof. If the Clintons won't fess up their tax returns, make it an issue so hard to ignore that they will have to address it. What exactly is her history of answering the red phone when it rings in the White House? None, except for saying, “It’s for you, Bill.”
Yes, Out of necessity, Obama will begin counterpunching Hillary with negative body blows. They will fight it out, down and dirty, while McCain watches unscathed from a safe distance.
While we'd all like to know what's in those tax returns, the longer it takes the Clintons to make them public, the more leverage Obama has to work with them. He really doesn't need to go negative, he needs to go positively presidential and convince the American people that he is the one we want to answer the phone whenever it rings.