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Obama visit 'very possible,' official says

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Mike DuPre'
February 9, 2008
— What started as a whisper—literally—Friday morning had reached murmur status by early afternoon but still remained only a rumor when this was written.

The whispered-murmured rumor?


Sen. Barack Obama will bring his campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination to Rock County on Wednesday.


The results of “Super Tuesday” were not decisive for Democrats, so Wisconsin’s political profile grew markedly.


It’s a foregone conclusion that Obama, D-Ill., and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., will visit Wisconsin—probably repeatedly—between now and the state’s primary Tuesday, Feb. 19.


The contenders for the Democratic nomination came out of “Super Tuesday” virtually tied in the delegate count. Clinton has a slight edge.


Eight primaries or caucuses between today and Tuesday could tip the scales one way or the other, but if the candidates continue to carve out nearly identical numbers, Wisconsin will be in the spotlight Feb. 19.


Wisconsin will share the national stage only with Hawaii on Feb. 19. Hawaiian Democrats will caucus that day to decide how to apportion their 20 pledged delegates and nine super-delegates.


While weather for campaigning surely will be better in Hawaii, that state of tropical islands has less than one-third of Wisconsin’s delegates—74 pledged, 18 super.


So the campaign trail will run often through Wisconsin. The Badger State probably will wind up as the de facto campaign trail from Feb. 12-19.


“I think so,” said Ted Kinnaman, prominent Rock County Democrat. “It’s just a question of where they will run them in.”


Clinton is scheduled to headline a state Democratic Party dinner in Milwaukee on Feb. 16, three days before the primary.


The Obama campaign has yet to announce any stops in Wisconsin.


The person who shared the whisper with The Janesville Gazette would be involved arranging the logistics of campaign stops. A meeting was being held to discuss that topic for an Obama stop Wednesday, the person said.


The Gazette started calling local Democrats and campaign organizers, which probably elevated the rumor from a whisper to a murmur.


But it’s no secret that local Democrats want both candidates to visit Rock County.


State Rep. Mike Sheridan of Janesville, D-44th District—who also is president of United Auto Workers Local 95—said he was asked about using the union hall for an Obama campaign stop.


Sheridan said he hasn’t been told when and where Obama will campaign in Wisconsin. But if he comes to Rock County, Local 95’s hall wouldn’t be big enough, Sheridan said.


“I suggested the Holiday Inn Express (in Janesville),” he said.


That’s where President George Bush brought his campaign in September 2004.


Clinton visited Janesville twice, both as first lady. She came in February 1994 to push her health-care reform plan and in October 1998 to campaign for local Democrats.


Jim Hay, a member of the board of First Congregational United Church of Christ, has been trying to persuade Obama, also a member of the denomination, to worship at the church at 54 S. Jackson St., Janesville, on Sunday, Feb. 17, two days before the primary.


“We are on the radar screen,” Hay said.


But the radar screen has many blips, said a staffer at Obama’s Illinois campaign headquarters.


A stop in Rock County next week is “very possible,” she said, “but we don’t have any confirmed events beyond Monday.”


The Obama campaign has teams scouting sites and dates in all states where delegates are still at stake, she said, and decisions on when and where the candidate will stop usually are not made until two days before the potential visit.



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