Ric Latarski - Democratic race heating up

In case you haven't noticed, the race for the Democrat nominee to the president of these United States between Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama is getting semi-nasty.

I say semi-nasty so it will leave room for things to be called pure nasty once they really get ugly.

A lot of stuff right now is flying from both camps and it surrounds those time-honored issues of mud-slinging politics: sex and race.

In this case, the sex issue has nothing to do with Bill Clinton or Eliot Spitzer but the allegation that Hillary is female.

People are wondering if the country is ready for a woman president and if so is she the right one. The question is: Will she be too soft because she's a woman or will she be too gung-ho in an effort to prove she is tough? A quandary, to be sure.

She even made an ad telling everyone she is the person with the experience needed to answer the phone if it rings at 3 a.m. with an emergency.

In fairness, this is probably true because more than likely she has answered the phone at 3 a.m. numerous times to hear Bill say, "The game went into extra innings but I'm on the way."

The race issue has been brought up because it is alleged that Obama is black.

The race issue has become so serious that Obama decided he needed to address the matter in a speech.

No doubt Obama was his usual articulate self, but if he really wanted to take the issue head-on, he would have focused his speech on the most important aspect of race: NASCAR.

If Obama would freely admit he believes race is important because NASCAR is the real American sport, then he probably wins the South without difficulty. It might be a little weird to see an Obama campaign headquarters in the infield of Darlington flying Confederate battle flags, but it would no doubt give a lot of people who haven't decided who to vote for pause for thought.

Being a politician, Obama would have to be careful about admitting who his favorite driver is, but he could not mention Dale Earnhardt because everyone knows Earnhardt drove a black car and that might send the wrong signal.

He would have to say something like, "I believe in everyone having an equal chance to win and root for several different drivers no matter what the color of their car."

Attending a NASCAR event would also give Obama an opportunity to show how language can be a great equalizer by saying, "Dad gum, that boy shor kin drive" and not raise an eyebrow with the word "boy."

In demonstrating fairness, Obama would also have to acknowledge those who participate in what is known as "open wheel racing." These are the people who drive those plastic flame-throwers in races like the Indianapolis 500.

Most of the folks who drive these things are named Jacques or Fillip and they may not even be eligible to vote, but Obama would need to recognize them anyway.

And if he wanted to counter the sex issue he could say that Danica Patrick is his favorite driver, although she does have gorgeous black hair.

Naturally, if Obama plays the car race card, Hillary would be in a tizzy and have to find some way to counter this onslaught.

She could say her favorite color is Petty Blue or that in her youth she spent three days in the infield of the Daytona 500, of course that might have been looking for Bill.

Hillary could also point out that NASCAR holds its annual awards banquet in New York City and Wall Street money helps support the sport.

The fact that NASCAR holds its banquet in New York City has always seemed a bit peculiar to me, but you have to remember that New York is a place that took someone from Arkansas and elected them senator, so weird is pretty much normal.

And if the race between Clinton and Obama locks down the convention then it may take the ultimate NASCAR move - the draft - to find a solution. Makes you wonder if Al Gore likes racing.

Through all of this the Republican nominee for president, Sen. John McCain, is rolling right along and enjoying watching the fight, but at some point he would have to respond to the car race card or lose ground.

He could easily do this by reminding everyone that despite the fact most racing tires are made by Goodyear and Firestone, he supports racing by looking like The Michelin Man.

Right now, we don't know how any of the election business will turn out, but just like NASCAR, the green flag is down and the race is on.

All we have to do is watch and wait to see who hits the wall.