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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

 9:54 PM 

Clinton backers downplay loss


Hillary Clinton's supporters tried to shrug off the Wisconsin loss and look ahead to the March 4 states of Texas and Ohio.

Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton said despite being outspent, Clinton "ran a strong campaign in Wisconsin."

"She gave us a lot of time and a lot of great surrogates and fabulous staff, and they did a terrific job," Lawton said.

Some had questioned why Clinton didn't campaign harder here, and some Dems believe her campaign sent mixed messages about how important Wisconsin was.

But Lawton said Wisconsin is "not a decisive state" and a national campaign has to make decisions about resource allocation. The real prizes lie ahead in Texas and Ohio, she said.

Lawton said the candidate that emerges from the primary will be tested and ready to win the fall election.

Listen to an interview with Lawton.

Dane Co. Exec. Kathleen Falk told supporters the race is far from over.

"Look at the big scheme of things here, we are about dead even in delegates," Falk said. "It is a darn close race. We worked very hard here, and I'm very proud and grateful for everyone in this building. And we know over the next couple of weeks two big states are coming up, Texas and Ohio, and we know those are states where people are hungry for health insurance, they are hungry for jobs, and we know Senator Clinton has spent 35 years working for kids and working families."

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, said wins in either of the March 4 states or Pennsylvania will turn the tide.

"If you look at the big states coming up, a win for Senator Clinton in any one of those stops any momentum Senator Obama has out there," Erpenbach said.



DPW chair Joe Wineke, who initially supported John Edwards in the race but hasn't picked a new candidate, said he "came very close" to picking a candidate about a week ago, then decided it would be better "to keep Humpty Dumpty together in case it started to blow up. And as you can guess in the last week we've seen signs of tearing, and one of my roles is going to have to be to keep everybody together."

Wineke, who stopped by the Obama party at the Great Dane Pub before appearing at the Clinton gathering, took a shot at Republicans for their lower turnout for the primary, and presumptive GOP nominee John McCain.

"We have two exceptional candidates that people are getting excited about and the Republicans have basically centered on John McCain who appears to not be the John McCain of the 'Straight Talk Express' but seems to be the John McCain of a third term for George Bush, I just don't see any excitement on the Republican side," Wineke said. "These guys get 250 or 500 people at an event, and we get 5,000 to 20,000."

The results here are a result of Obama outspending Clinton in media and the momentum of Obama's campaign, especially with young voters, Wineke said. Another factor, he said, were reports last week in the national media that Clinton was writing off Wisconsin.

"It's really hard in that circumstance to be competitive, yet I think most pundits and I think even people in the Obama campaign from everything I was hearing thought that Senator Clinton was closing in the end," he said. "From the results, it appears she didn't close nearly enough."

Still, Wineke says there won't be a huge differential in delegates allocated.

"Say for example this thing goes 55 (percent to) 45 (percent), where it appears it's going to be in that range, do you want to disenfranchise that other 45 percent?" he said. "If you make them proportional, maybe one candidate gets a few more delegates than the other, but maybe that's the way it's supposed to be."

If Clinton doesn't win in Ohio and Texas, he said, the argument about delegates and super delegates will be moot, he said.

"I just don't see how Senator Obama would be denied the nomination," Wineke said. "Now if Senator Clinton wins those states, whole new game."

Listen to an interview with Wineke.

-- By Greg Bump

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