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PJM Special Coverage - Obama Takes Wyoming

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9:06 PM EST — Wyoming Final, Mississippi Preview: The final result from the Wyoming Democratic caucuses: Barack Obama 61%, Hillary Clinton 38%.

Obama wins 7 delegates to the Democratic national convention in Denver, Clinton wins 4, with the other not yet determined.

This means that Obama has already made up all but a handful of the delegates Clinton made up on him last Tuesday. When she won big in Ohio and Rhode Island, split a pair of opposing New England landslides in Rhode Island and Vermont, and as we projected narrowly lost the overall Texas primary/caucus contest.

The Wyoming caucuses had a record turnout today. Small numbers still, of course, in a state which, while it is 10th in the union in land area, is 50th in population. In 2004, less than 700 turned out for the caucuses. Today it was nearly 9,000. And many hundreds more were reportedly turned away, mostly in what turned out to be Obama strongholds, perhaps confused by the lack of a regular statewide starting time, as each of the 23 counties had their own schedule.

Next up? The Mississippi primary on Tuesday.

Former President Bill Clinton stumped the state for his wife throughout the day and is appearing in Meridian at this writing with novelist John Grisham.

The ex-prez, after savaging the freshman Illinois senator earlier in the campaign, called for a Clinton/Obama ticket this morning in Pass Christian. Clinton, now that he has toned down his bad cop routine, is getting good results again for his wife.

The conventional media has pushed a storyline that Bill Clinton is locked in a closet. Actually, he has been campaigning feverishly and effectively in midsized and small markets. If you look at his schedule in Ohio and Texas, it coincides with the best-performing areas for his wife. He’s still a very huge deal with Democrats around the country, and having a former president show up outside the elite media markets is impactful.

With how he’s been campaigning since Tuesday, it’s obvious that Clinton thinks he can have an impact in Mississippi, which is expected nonetheless to go to Obama.

How’s it going? Well, there are two new polls. One, by Insider Advantage for the Southern Political Report, shows a relatively small Obama lead over Clinton, 46% to 40%.

But the new Rasmussen robopoll has Obama well ahead of Clinton, 53% to 39%.

Stay tuned.

March 8, 2008 6:01:11 PM EST — Confirming Obama’s Easy Wyoming Victory: With 19 of the 23 county caucuses reporting in, Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton in the Wyoming Democratic caucuses, 58% to 41%.

With 19 of the 23 county caucuses reporting in, Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton in the Wyoming Democratic caucuses, 58% to 41%.

Just over an eighth of the delegates elected from the county level to the state convention are left to be selected, so Obama has easily won this contest.

There are reports of hundreds of people being turned away from overflow caucuses, mostly in what turn out to have been Obama strongholds — on account of showing up late — so the tyro Illinois senator’s edge is probably understated.

I’ll report in with Wyoming wrap-ups, and a look ahead to Mississippi on Tuesday, later today.

March 8, 2008 3:24:24 PM EST — Obama Winning Wyoming: With 16 of Wyoming’s 23 county caucuses reporting, Barack Obama is winning the state over Hillary Clinton, 60% to 39%.

I think most of the urban centers, relatively speaking are in. So we can probably call this.

Former President Bill Clinton spending all day Thursday campaigning across the state and Hillary Clinton spending Friday trying to pick up momentum from holding off Obama on Tuesday does not appear to have done much for the Clinton campaign.

I’ll have more detail and other reports as the day continues.

March 8, 2008 2:58:00 PM EST — While Obama Leads In Rural Wyoming, Hillary Gets Bad News From Britain: Barack Obama has taken an early lead in Wyoming’s rural counties over Hillary Clinton, 54% to 45%.

Meanwhile, Clinton received a setback with regard to her claims of national security experience. She’s taken of late to claiming substantial credit for brokering the peace deal in Northern Ireland. Something which I don’t recall her saying much before she came up with her “3 AM” ad gambit against Obama and, having followed the matter at the time, had not occurred to me. I’ve read quite a few biographies of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was in the center of tackling the Northern Ireland problem, and Hillary Clinton does not figure prominently.

The Telegraph reported today that someone who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland is deriding Hillary’s claims as “silly.”

From the article, written by the paper’s Northern Ireland correspondent at the time: Mrs. Clinton has made Northern Ireland key to her claims of having extensive foreign policy experience, which helped her defeat Barack Obama in Ohio and Texas on Tuesday after she presented herself as being ready to tackle foreign policy crises at 3am.

“I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland,” she told CNN on Wednesday. But negotiators from the parties that helped broker the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 told The Daily Telegraph that her role was peripheral and that she played no part in the grueling political talks over the years.

Lord Trimble shared the Nobel Peace Prize with John Hume, leader of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party, in 1998. Conall McDevitt, an SDLP negotiator and aide to Mr Hume during the talks, said: “There would have been no contact with her either in person or on the phone. I was with Hume regularly during calls in the months leading up to the Good Friday Agreement when he was taking calls from the White House and they were invariably coming from the president.”

Central to Mrs Clinton’s claim of an important Northern Ireland role is a meeting she attended in Belfast in with a group of women from cross-community groups. “I actually went to Northern Ireland more than my husband did,” she said in Nashua, New Hampshire on January 6th.

“I remember a meeting that I pulled together in Belfast, in the town hall there, bringing together for the first time Catholics and Protestants from both traditions, having them sitting a room where they had never been before with each other because they don’t go to school together, they don’t live together and it was only in large measure because I really asked them to come that they were there.

“And I wasn’t sure it was going to be very successful and finally a Catholic woman on one side of the table said, ‘You know, every time my husband leaves for work in the morning I worry he won’t come home at night.

“And then a Protestant woman on the other side said, ‘Every time my son tries to go out at night I worry he won’t come home again’. And suddenly instead of seeing each other as caricatures and stereotypes they saw each other as human beings and the slow, hard work of peace-making could move forward.”

There is no record of a meeting at Belfast City Hall, though Mrs Clinton attended a ceremony there when her husband turned on the Christmas tree lights in November 1995. The former First Lady appears to be referring a 50-minute event the same day, arranged by the US Consulate, the same day at the Lamp Lighter Café on the city’s Ormeau Road.

The “Belfast Telegraph” reported the next day that the café meeting was crammed with reporters, cameramen and Secret Service agents. Conversation “seemed a little bit stilted, a little prepared at times” and Mrs Clinton admired a stainless steel tea pot, which was duly given to her, for keeping the brew “so nice and hot”.

Among those attending were women from groups representing single parents, relationship counsellors, youth workers and a cultural society. In her 2003 autobiography “Living History”, Mrs Clinton wrote about the meeting in some detail but made no claim that it was significant.

March 8, 2008 2:12:25 PM EST — Bill Clinton Says Obama Should Be On Ticket While Clinton Campaign Attacks Again: While Wyoming Democratic crowd into their state caucuses today, and the candidates themselves take a day off the trail — Barack Obama is in Chicago and Hillary Clinton is in Washington — former President Bill Clinton barnstorms across Mississippi, which holds its primary on Tuesday. Clinton, who closes out his day joining mega-novelist John Grisham at a rally tonight in Meridian, Mississippi, was in Pass Christian this morning.

There he said that a ticket with Obama and Hillary Clinton on it — he didn’t say who would be in the top spot, but you can guess his preference — would be “an unstoppable force.” http://hotlineblog.nationaljournal.com/archives/2008/03/wjc_clintonobam.html An interesting perspective considering how the former president has savaged the upstart young senator in the past.

“I know that she has always been open to it,” Clinton said at a high school on the Gulf Coast, “because she believes that if you can unite the energy and the new people that he’s brought in and the people in these vast swaths of small town and rural America that she’s carried overwhelmingly, if you had those two things together she thinks it’d be hard to beat.

“I mean you look at the, you look at the, you look at the map of Texas and the map in Ohio. And the map in Missouri or — well Arkansas’s not a good case because they know her and she won every place there. But you look at most of these places, he would win the urban areas and the upscale voters, and she wins the traditional rural areas that we lost when President Reagan was president. If you put those two things together, you’d have an almost unstoppable force.”

Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign continued its assault on Obama’s qualifications with its now routine attack statements.

Which shows the fine line the trailing Clintons are attempting to walk here. Although they’ve succeeded in tripping up Obama — thanks to foolish statements from advisors, among other things, as well as getting the media to bite on their latest ploys in changing the expectations game from what they said only a few weeks ago — he still is raising far more money and has a probably insurmountable lead in earned delegates.

They have to try to defeat him, while holding out the prospect that he would become the vice president.

Which, incidentally, Obama rejected last night in Wyoming.

March 8, 2008 1:11:44 PM EST — First Wyoming Returns! The first returns are in from the Wyoming Democratic presidential caucuses. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ran dead even in the first of 23 county caucuses to report throughout the day.

However, the returns are from Niobara County, the state’s smallest county. From a caucus held in the home of Everett and Fredda Lou Kilmer in picturesque Lusk, Wyoming.

Clinton and Obama split the county’s sole delegate to the state party convention where the actual delegates to the Democratic national convention will be selected. 323 delegates are being selected today in the county caucuses for the state convention.

The national convention delegates will be selected in the proportions won by the candidates in today’s county caucuses, so today’s contest will tell us who won, but not who the actual national convention delegates will be.

On a somewhat more serious note, widespread reports are coming in from the more populous areas of Wyoming of thousands crowding the cafeterias, high school gymnasiums and so forth selected for the caucus sites before it became apparent that this barnburner of a race would continue through today.

There are long lines to get in, and some people are being turned away as late arrivals, somewhat confused by the different start times around the state.

March 8, 2008 12:17:48 PM EST — Game Day Wyoming: Happy International Women’s Day! A bigger day in Europe, to be sure, than in, say, Wyoming. But today we’ll see if Hillary Clinton can use the Wyoming caucuses to get some momentum of her own after, in some ways, halting Barack Obama’s momentum on Tuesday.

Happy International Women’s Day! A bigger day in Europe, to be sure, than in, say, Wyoming. But today we’ll see if Hillary Clinton can use the Wyoming caucuses to get some momentum of her own after, in some ways, halting Barack Obama’s momentum on Tuesday.

Wyoming was the first state in the union to the elect a woman governor, Nellie Ross. And as former President Bill Clinton pointed out when he barnstormed through the state on Thursday, the Wyoming state slogan, dating back to the 19th century, is “Equal Rights.” But students of Western history know that was something of a marketing ploy, designed to draw more women out to a remote yet beautiful territory comprised of the High Plains and the Rocky Mountains.

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigned in Wyoming yesterday, and both made appearances in Obama cousin Dick Cheney’s hometown of Casper, while Hillary split off to the capital of Cheyenne and Obama went to Laramie.

Obama closed out his Wyoming campaigning last night drawing 8500 people to a rally in Laramie. The biggest political rally in the history of a state with a population of 520,000.

There he delivered his standard stump speech, with a little twist for Dick Cheney’s home state crowd. “No matter what else happens, the name George W. Bush won’t be on the ballot. The name of my cousin Dick Cheney won’t be on the ballot,” he said, to the laughter of the crowd. “We have enough money, ideas, energy and inspiration. What’s been missing is the American people trying to take this country back. If you decide, then we cannot be stopped,” he said.

There are no polls in Wyoming. Not that polls have done all that well this year. But we do know there is virtually no African American base for Obama in this state bordered on the north by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado, on the southwest by Utah, and on the west by Idaho.

The state’s population is 90% white, 6% Latino, 3% Native American (or American Indian, as the casino tribes of California now seem to prefer), and 1% black. Wyoming’s economy is based on resource extraction and tourism. The state has never had a personal or corporate income tax, and the sales tax doesn’t apply to food. Staunch support for the Second Amendment (right to bear arms) is a top priority in the state Democratic Party platform.

Wyoming hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since Lyndon Johnson crushed Barry Goldwater in 1964.

But it does have a Democratic governor, Dave Freudenthal. Governor Freudenthal, who won narrowly in 2002 over a somewhat hapless candidate backed by famously acerbic former Senator Alan Simpson, won an easy re-election in 2006.

Freudenthal says he is neutral in the race between Obama and Clinton. But he was appointed by former President Clinton as US attorney for Wyoming, the post he used to prepare his run for governor.

Former Wyoming Governor Mike Sullivan, Bill Clinton’s US ambassador to Ireland, is pushing for Hillary. As is former Wyoming Secretary of State Kathy Karpan, a familiar figure in national Democratic politics, who introduced Hillary Clinton yesterday with a plea to make International Women’s Day a reality in Wyoming today.

Meanwhile, Wyoming Democratic Party chairman John Millin is for Obama. Last fall, he caused some controversy by saying that Hillary inspires so much hatred in the Mountain West that her nomination would put all Mountain West Democrats in danger if she headed up the ticket.

Iowa Governor Chet Culver has also been stumping for Obama in Wyoming.

Here is how the caucuses will unfold.

12 delegates to the Democratic national convention will be selected in 23 county caucuses held around the state. To make things more complicated seeming, the caucuses are taking place all at different times, from the early morning to the late afternoon.

I’ll be giving you reports throughout the day, both on doings within Wyoming, and on other campaign developments.