Campaign Spotlight on Wisconsin

10 years ago

On a crisp fall day in 1988, my father picked me up after school and brought me with him to a very important event. We were going to listen to a speech given by George H.W. Bush at the Stevens Point train depot. The soon-to-be forty-first president of the United States was making a campaign stop in our town of 23,000 people, and the traffic was backed up for miles.

I don't remember where my father parked the car, or what I wore that day, but I can still feel the cold air as it stung my cheeks. The excitement was intense. Thousands of people gathered in the large square outside the depot, waiting for the train to arrive. I was only nine years old and rather short, so my father hoisted me onto his shoulders to witness the moment the future president stepped off the train car.

Once the speech began I became distracted by other things. I was still too young to understand the issues this presidential candidate was speaking about. When it was all over my father said to me, "You're a very lucky girl. I don't know many third-graders who got to hear the next president speak."

In a mock election at school a few weeks later, I voted for Michael Dukakis because I thought it was fun to say his last name. My father lectured me when I told him. He said, "Dana, you have to research the issues. If everyone else made choices based on the sound of one's name, Elvis Presley could have served four terms."

The following January, George Herbert Walker Bush was inaugurated and I was amazed that my father correctly predicted who our next president would be. Even more magical was the fact that I got to witness a bit of history. I still hold fond memories of that autumn day. Perhaps it was that I cherish the time I spent with my dad, and also because he felt it was important to share his passion for politics with me. Twenty years later, that passion is alive within me.

Wisconsin's primary is this Tuesday, February 19th, and the campaign spotlight is shining brightly on my state.

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel online:

When you're the 38th state to vote, your presidential primary is not supposed to matter. But the same frantic calendar that threatened to marginalize Wisconsin's Feb. 19 contest now may inflate it beyond anything the state has seen in decades.

"Many people believed months and months ago that this race would be over on February 5," said Robert Gibbs, spokesman for Democrat Barack Obama. "But it looks much more like a continued slog for delegates, which puts Wisconsin in a unique situation."

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are preparing for battle in the Cheese State this week.

Chelsea Clinton has visited Milwaukee:

Chelsea Clinton urged students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to vote in next week's Wisconsin presidential primary, hopefully for her mother. Her mother, Senator Hillary Clinton, is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. More than 150 people attended Chelsea's appearance on Monday, from avid Clinton supporters to curious undecided students to a fourth-grade class from nearby Hartford University School.

Michelle Obama visited the campus of St. Norbert college in De Pere (near Green Bay):

Obama told the Walter Theater audience of more than 700 that her husband, Sen. Barack Obama, had already shattered expectations in this campaign “(winning) in places no one thought he could win.” Obama, who talked for just under an hour, didn’t touch on specifics of what her husband's presidency would do. Instead — to great applause from the audience — she promised it would be a different brand of leadership. "Imagine a president who understands cultures different than his own … who understands global poverty,” Obama said. “We have not seen a president in my lifetime with that kind of sensibility.”

Barack Obama will be speaking tomorrow in Oshkosh. From UW-Oshkosh Today:

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is scheduled to speak at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Kolf Sports Center Feb. 15. Doors open at noon. The visit is funded by Obama for America and is sponsored by UW Oshkosh’s College Democrats. The event is open to the general public, as well as the campus community.

On top of campaign stops, the radio and television ads have been unveiled. Hillary Clinton struck first, attacking Barack Obama for not indicating if he will participate in a debate at Marquette University prior to the Wisconsin primary.

Obama returned fire with an ad of his own:

On the Republican side, candidates John McCain and Mike Huckabee will be making appearances in Wisconsin tomorrow.

McCain will be visiting Oshkosh the same day as Barack Obama. His visit will take place at the EAA Aviation Center and Museum. Afterward he will travel to LaCrosse for a town hall meeting at the Radisson Hotel's Main Ballroom. Mike Huckabee hosted a rally at the Stony Creek Inn in the Rothschild/Wausau area this evening.

Rumors of future events are abuzz and I have been frantically checking e-mails and websites for updated information, just hoping to experience another speech from a presidential hopeful. It's amazing that Wisconsin's primary is getting so much attention, especially when it was never a big deal before. The anticipation is killing me.

Will Senator Clinton or Senator Obama win Wisconsin?

Chris Bowers of Open Left writes:

Barack Obama has had a fantastic week, sweeping the six states and two territories to hold contests since Super Tuesday. Further, he has done so by large amounts, with a 19% victory in Maine actually being the closest contest this week. He has soared to a triple digit lead in pledged delegates, maintains an advantage in fundraising, and has an advantage on the ground in most states left to vote. The momentum is clearly moving his way as he has pulled narrowly ahead in national polling (see Rasmussen and Gallup), and he is even starting to win super delegate endorsements at a much faster rate than Hillary Clinton. And yet, despite all of this, a look at the campaign over the next three weeks indicates that the pressure is squarely, if not overwhelmingly, on Obama to win Wisconsin this coming Tuesday.


The City of Madison is being proactive in the face of what could be a record setting election turn out here in Madison. With the entire Clinton family having made or scheduled to make appearances, as well as the massive turn out for Illinois Senator Barack Obama on Tuesday, voter energy is high. The city has sent out a call for extra hands at campus area polling places.

From the Daily Cardinal (UW-Madison):

Chancelor John Wiley urged students Tuesday to learn about the presidential candidates, register to vote and participate in the 2008 Wisconsin primary Feb. 19.

“As I’m sure everyone is already aware, Wisconsin voters will have the chance to make their voices heard in the presidential primary,” Wiley said in an e-mail sent to all students Tuesday.

UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Student Public Interest Research Group is currently working to ensure students will be well represented when polls open next week.

“We’re really focused on getting new voters to the polls,” WISPIRG Chair Jeff Rolling said of the group’s New Voters Project. “Candidates are coming to students because they know that students are turning out in record numbers.

“We really have the ability to sway an election outcome.”

Faithful Progressive writes:

Many leading Wisconsin politicians have been lining up behind Iraq war opponent and neighboring US Senator, Barack Obama--who has shown great appeal in the Upper Midwest. And Obama would appear to have another edge: Wisconsin's open primary will no doubt draw more independents out to vote. More independents across the country have chosen Democrats, but this clear trend is likely to accelerate with the GOP race all but locked up. And Sen. Obama has won more independents, coast to coast.

Can Mike Huckabee beat John McCain?

Mitt Romney has endorsed McCain. From the Associated Press:

Republican campaign dropout Mitt Romney endorsed John McCain for the party's presidential nomination and asked his national convention delegates to swing behind the likely nominee.

"Even when the contest was close and our disagreements were debated, the caliber of the man was apparent," the former Massachusetts governor said, standing alongside his former rival at his now-defunct campaign's headquarters. "As a party, we come together."

But Huckabee says "the game isn't over":

Mike Huckabee told supporters they could help muddle expectations if they vote for him in Tuesday's state primary instead of John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee. McCain has a commanding lead over Huckabee in the chase for convention delegates.

"We're not ready to simply say game over," Huckabee told about 500 people gathered at a downtown hotel. "If I win Wisconsin, there'll be some people scratching their heads at those anchor desks saying 'We don't understand this. We don't know what's going on.'"

Here in Stevens Point, signs advertising the "Ron Paul Revolution" are posted at every street corner. His support comes mostly from the students of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Our local newspaper, the Stevens Point Journal, has been printing a column called "Stance at a Glance" which highlights where the candidates stand on important issues like health care and immigration. Ron Paul doesn't even make their list.

I still don't know who I'm voting for. Because Wisconsin has an open primary, I can vote either Democrat or Republican. Will Barack Obama get my vote? Will I give in to John McCain? Should I take a chance and choose Ron Paul? Or Hillary Clinton?

Cindy Kilkenny of Fairly Conservative has her stragety in check:

I can vote Democrat or Republican as long as I don’t vote both on the same ballot. Jim Burkee is challenging Republican James Sensenbrenner for the 5th Congressional District Republican nomination, but I’m not too worried about that. So, I think I’m going to vote for Hillary Clinton.

My decision is still tentative, and I can be swayed, but hear me out. First, I get to vote for a woman running for President of the United States. I do think that’s pretty cool. Also, I have a real interest in keeping the Democratic nomination as tight as possible through their convention. I think a vote for Clinton will work toward that goal.

In less than five days, Wisconsinites will vote, and the country will be watching. I'm so anxious my feet won't stop tapping.

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