Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: OBAMA continues to roll from close and behind to victory, and that is the story.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

OBAMA continues to roll from close and behind to victory, and that is the story.

OBAMA continues to roll from close and behind to victory, and that is the story.

WASHINGTON - Barack Obama cruised past a fading Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Wisconsin primary Tuesday night, gaining the upper hand in a Democratic presidential race for the ages. It was Obama's ninth straight victory over the past three weeks, and left the former first lady in desperate need of a comeback in a race she long commanded as front-runner.

"The change we seek is still months and miles away," Obama told a boisterous crowd in Houston.

He cut deeply into Clinton's political bedrock in Wisconsin, splitting the support of white women in Wisconsin almost evenly with the former first lady and running well among working class voters in the blue collar battleground, according to polling place interviews.

The economy and trade were key issues in the race, and seven in 10 voters said international trade has resulted in lost jobs in Wisconsin. Fewer than one in five said trade has created more jobs than it has lost.

Clinton made no mention of her defeat, and showed no sign of surrender in an appearance in Youngstown, Ohio.

"Both Senator Obama and I would make history," the former first lady said. "But only one of us is ready on day one to be commander in chief, ready to manage our economy, and ready to defeat the Republicans. Only one of us has spent 35 years being a doer, a fighter and a champion for those who need a voice."

In a clear sign of their standing in the race, most cable television networks abruptly cut away from coverage of Clinton's rally when Obama began to speak in Texas.

Sen. John McCain won the Republican primary with ease, dispatching former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and edging closer to the 1,191 delegates he needs to clinch the GOP nomination at the party convention in St. Paul, Minn. next summer.

In scarcely veiled criticism of Obama, the Republican nominee-in-waiting said, "I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure that Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change."

McCain's nomination has been assured since Super Tuesday three weeks ago, as first one, then another of his former rivals has dropped out and the party establishment has closed ranks behind him.

Not so in the Democratic race, where Obama and Clinton campaign seven days a week, he the strongest black presidential candidate in history, she bidding to become the first woman to sit in the White House.

Ohio and Texas vote next on March 4 — 370 convention delegates in all — and even some of Clinton's supporters concede she must win one, and possibly both, to remain competitive.

Wisconsin independents cast about one-quarter of the ballots in the race between Obama and Clinton, and roughly 15 percent of the electorate were first-time voters, the survey at polling places said. Obama has run strongly among independents in earlier primaries, and among younger voters, and cited their support as evidence that he would make a stronger general election candidate in the fall.

With the votes counted in nearly one-quarter of the state's precincts, Obama was winning 56 percent of the vote, to 43 percent for Clinton.

Wisconsin offered 74 national convention delegates. There were 20 delegates at stake in caucuses in Hawaii, where Obama spent part of his youth.

Obama's victory allowed him to expand his delegate edge over Clinton.

He had 1,294, and Clinton had 1,218 in The Associated Press count, with most of Wisconsin's delegates still to be allocated. It takes 2,025 to win the nomination at the party's national convention in Denver.

Obama began the evening with eight straight primary and caucus victories, a remarkable run that has propelled him past Clinton in the overall delegate race and enabled him to chip away at her advantage among elected officials within the party who will have convention votes as superdelegates.

The Democrats' focus on trade was certain to intensify, with primaries in Ohio in two weeks and in Pennsylvania on April 22.

Obama's campaign has already distributed mass mailings critical of Clinton on the issue in Ohio. "Bad trade deals like NAFTA hit Ohio harder than most states. Only Barack Obama consistently opposed NAFTA," it said.

Obama was in Texas, which has primaries and caucuses on March 4, and Clinton was in Ohio as the votes were counted in Wisconsin.

Clinton's aides initially signaled she would virtually concede Wisconsin, and the former first lady spent less time in the state than Obama.

Even so, she ran a television ad that accused her rival of ducking a debate in the state and added that she had the only health care plan that would cover all Americans and the only economic plan to stop home foreclosures. "Maybe he'd prefer to give speeches than have to answer questions" the commercial said.

Obama countered with an ad of his own, saying his health care plan would cover more people.

The campaign grew increasingly testy over the weekend, when Clinton's aides accused Obama of plagiarism for delivering a speech that included words that had first been uttered by Deval Patrick, the Massachusetts governor and a friend of Obama.

"I really don't think this is too big of a deal," Obama said, eager to lay the issue to rest quickly. He said Clinton had used his slogans, too.

Even before the votes were tallied in one state, the campaigners were looking ahead.

Unlike the Democratic race, McCain was assured of the Republican nomination and concentrated on turning his primary campaign into a general election candidacy.

Huckabee parried occasional suggestions — none of them by McCain — that he quit the race. In a move that was unorthodox if not unprecedented for a presidential contender, he left the country in recent days to make a paid speech in the Grand Cayman Islands.

McCain picked up endorsements in the days before the primary from former President George H.W. Bush and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a campaign dropout who urged his 280 delegates to swing behind the party's nominee-to-be.

By Sasha Issenberg, Globe Staff

MILWAUKEE — Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in today’s Wisconsin primary, showing a broad reach across Democratic constituencies, including many — such as women, lower-income families, and union households — that had been strongholds for Clinton in previous contests.

Obama’s projected victory, his ninth in a row, was quickly answered with twin attacks from opponents in both parties. John McCain, who declared that he will be the Republican nominee after beating Mike Huckabee in Wisconsin, dismissed Obama’s message as ‘‘an eloquent but empty call for change,’’ while Clinton launched her most aggressive critique yet on his preparedness for the presidency.

‘‘One of us is ready to be commander in chief in a dangerous world,’’ Clinton said at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio.

Obama’s victory occurred after a week in Wisconsin where economic concerns that Clinton’s campaign had considered among her strengths rose to the fore. Despite the change in focus, Obama broke into Clinton’s support among lower-income white voters who are predominant in Wisconsin’s electorate while maintaining his hold on young, independent, and African-American voters. He enters key primaries on March 4 with a sturdy base among all sorts of Democrats.

‘‘Now people are beyond the mystique of who he is and are able to embrace all he has to offer,’’ Willie L. Hines Jr., president of the Milwaukee Common Council, its citywide legislature, said of Obama.

Another Obama victory increases the pressure for Clinton to win in delegate-rich Ohio and Texas on March 4. Like Wisconsin, Ohio has significant concentrations of working-class whites aggrieved by economic change, though also a greater population of the black voters who have been a base of Obama’s support.

Obama appears to be even with Clinton in the polls in Texas, and he told supporters tonight at a rally in a Houston arena, ‘‘The change we seek is still months and miles away, and we need the good people of Texas to help us get there.’’

Heading into Wisconsin, Obama held a slight lead among delegates with 1,281 to Clinton’s 1,218, according to an Associated Press count that includes ‘‘superdelegates’’ who have committed to one of the candidates.

PARMA, Ohio — Before the polls even opened in Wisconsin on Tuesday, the two Democratic contenders had moved on to campaign in Texas and Ohio, the two next big prizes on the primary calendar.

In this blue-collar suburb of Cleveland, one of them, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, spoke at Grace’s Grill of her plans to revitalize the ailing Ohio economy with investments in wind and solar power, medical research, advanced automotive technology and low-cost home loans to protect people from foreclosure. Ohio has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation.

Mrs. Clinton’s rival, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, was in San Antonio, where he also talked about the crisis affecting subprime borrowers. Mr. Obama pledged to penalize predatory lenders, offer a tax credit to cover 10 percent of interest on mortgages of struggling homeowners and make an additional $10 billion in bonds available to help buy first homes or avoid foreclosure.

The similar themes illustrate the parallel approaches that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton are taking to the Ohio and Texas primaries, which will be held March 4, along with those of Rhode Island and Vermont. Both campaigns acknowledged the central importance of the contests in Ohio and Texas, where pocketbook issues of struggling families have emerged as a central concern.

The four states together will decide 370 pledged delegates, the second-largest trove after the 22 contests on Feb. 5. Depending on the popular vote outcome and the complex delegate math, the March 4 votes could give Mr. Obama a commanding lead, put Mrs. Clinton ahead or leave them essentially tied and looking toward the next big-state contest, Pennsylvania on April 22.

“These are major, major, major battleground states,” said Howard Wolfson, the Clinton campaign’s communications director. “It will be a major test of the two candidates.”

The Clinton campaign said it was deploying staff members from other states to Ohio and opening offices in every Congressional district. In Texas, it has opened 20 offices and enlisted 4,000 precinct captains, almost halfway to where it wants to be, campaign officials said.

Texas’ byzantine delegate-selection rules pose a particular challenge to the Clinton forces. Districts that produced heavy Democratic majorities in past contests get a disproportionate share of the delegates, and this favors Mr. Obama because of large turnout in 2004 and 2006 in college towns and black precincts, where he has done well in other states. Mrs. Clinton’s strength is in the cities along the Mexican border, where she is popular with Hispanic voters, but which produce fewer delegates.

Adding to the complexity, Texas holds a primary and a caucus on the same day, with the evening caucus open only to those who have already cast primary ballots, either in early voting (which began Tuesday) or at the polls on March 4. Mr. Obama has prevailed in most caucuses up to now.

Mrs. Clinton said she could not begin to explain how the Texas system worked. “I had no idea how bizarre it is,” she said aboard her plane flying from Wisconsin to Ohio. “We have grown men crying over it.”

Clinton campaign officials have admitted being ill prepared for the series of contests after Feb. 5. Further evidence came this week when The Philadelphia Daily News reported that the Clinton campaign in Pennsylvania had failed to file a complete slate of delegates for that state’s primary, falling 10 or 11 delegates short of the 103 delegates to be elected at the district level. Under party rules, however, those delegates could be restored later. Phil Singer, a campaign spokesman, said, “We expect every one of our slots to be filled after the Pennsylvania primary.”

After winning 23 contests before Tuesday, the Obama campaign is intensely competing in Texas and Ohio. Television advertisements started running in both states last week, including Spanish-language advertisements in Texas.

In Ohio, two advertisements focus on the state’s battered economy and promise job-creation programs and an end to corporate tax loopholes; another is biographical, and a fourth paints Mrs. Clinton as an embodiment of the past.

The Obama campaign has opened 10 regional offices in Texas, aides said, and plans to open more before the primary.

Their strategy for Texas, Obama aides said, includes appealing to African-Americans in Dallas and Houston, as well as building upon the senator’s popularity in Austin, where a rally last year drew 20,000 people. But Mr. Obama’s first appearance in the state on Tuesday, in the heart of a Hispanic neighborhood in San Antonio, underscored his effort to compete with Mrs. Clinton for Hispanic supporters.

Adrian Saenz, the Texas director of the Obama campaign, said 125,000 volunteers in the state had signed up to help the campaign when the operation formally began three weeks ago.

“We’re not giving up any part of the state, regardless of where folks may say the Clintons have deep roots,” Mr. Saenz said in an interview, adding that the campaign intended to find support among younger Hispanic voters. In the fight for Ohio, Mr. Obama has dispatched his top operatives, including Paul Tewes, the Iowa campaign manager, to run the state effort. Teams of organizers from states that held contests on Feb. 5 have also been dispatched to Ohio and Texas.

The Clinton campaign plans to spend millions of dollars on advertisements in the two states, with an emphasis on Mrs. Clinton’s experience and her economic message, which has taken on a new populist tone in recent days.

A new television advertisement in Ohio, “Night Shift,” is directed at lower-income voters, who have formed a bulwark of her support so far. It speaks of those who clean up in hair salons, work late at diners and pull the overnight shift in hospitals.

The Clinton campaign says it has raised $15 million in 15 days this month, most of it from online contributors, and top aides say they will be able to match Mr. Obama’s spending in the coming contests.

“We’re going to run a campaign down here in which we concede absolutely nothing,” said Ace Smith, the Clinton campaign’s Texas director and director of Mrs. Clinton’s winning campaign in California.

John M. Broder reported from Parma, and Jeff Zeleny from San Antonio. Mary Ann Giordano and Dalia Sussman contributed reporting.

Obama's victory -- yet another one -- in an important state primary suggests her coalition is beginning to come unstuck.

By Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
7:03 PM PST, February 19, 2008

With his victory in Wisconsin's Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, Barack Obama withstood an aggressive assault by rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and gained new momentum for their high-stakes battle ahead in Texas and Ohio.

Obama's win raised new doubts about the Clinton campaign's strategy of casting the Illinois senator as a candidate whose soaring rhetoric masks a lack of preparation for the presidency.

And it showed that Obama is continuing to make inroads into Clinton's coalition of women, the elderly, working-class white voters and other groups. And that, analysts say, spells potential danger for her in the March 4 primaries in Ohio and Texas.

"Her coalition just is not holding," said Lawrence R. Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance. "This could be -- I wouldn't say her Waterloo, but maybe the battle before the Waterloo."

Clinton has tried to stop Obama's momentum in Wisconsin by suggesting he borrowed speech excerpts inappropriately from his political ally, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. The New York senator also opened a TV ad attack on Obama in Wisconsin that slammed him for refusing to debate in the state.

In the end, that charge "insulted people's intelligence," said Wisconsin pollster Paul Maslin, a Democrat watching the nomination battle from the sidelines.

"Do they think people in Wisconsin don't watch MSNBC or Fox or CNN? People know there have been plenty of debates."

All 2,691 News Articles of the moment

He Has His Campaign Right Where It Needs To Be….underestimated from the start and under attack…the attacks will fail, but that’s all her manager know to do. There are a number of things changing!

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