Obama's Camp Assesses His Chances in Wisconsin

(CBS)
From CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic:

BELOIT, WIS. -- Barack Obama made his final Wisconsin campaign stop Monday night before today's primary, where he told a crowd of over 2,000 that their vote could help him secure the nomination.

"We are one day away from changing America right here in Wisconsin," Obama told supporters.

Obama has campaigned aggressively in Wisconsin this week, making stops in areas which include all major social demographics. Obama began the week in Madison, where he courted college students and made his way to both the blue-collar and rural areas of the state.

Despite these efforts, Obama's advisers expect the race to be competitive and very close. Campaign manager David Plouffe said by Hillary Clinton's definitions, her campaign may have the advantage.

"They had some fairly amusing and creative reasons for why they have not won states, they are too small, or there are caucuses or there's too many college-educated voters or they are red states that democrats should not contest," Plouffe said.

However, he described Wisconsin as a strong blue-collar and rural state with a fairly small African-American community. Combine that with the fact that Wisconsin is a primary and Plouffe says it's a perfect combination for a Clinton win, according to her campaign's rationale. For its part, the Clinton campaign had downplayed their chances in Wisconsin until this past weekend, after polls consistently showed her down by only single digits.

Plouffe said Obama's goal is simply to acquire more pledged delegates and to continue to the next contests. He argues that a Wisconsin win is more critical to the Clinton campaign.

"We think right now we have a very healthy lead. Our goal is to maintain that lead and if she is not able to seriously erode that lead heading into March, I think that it will raise big questions about her ability to do that by the end of June."

Campaign staffers say Obama's performance today in conservative suburbs such as Waukesha and the Fox Valley area will be strong indicators of how well he can do in a general election. If he can win these areas, he may be in a better position to beat his Republican opponent than Clinton.

Obama is already looking ahead to the March 4 races, where a large number of pledged delegates are up for grabs, especially in Ohio and Texas. He begins campaigning in Texas today with stops in San Antonio and Houston.

Plouffe said the campaign is bracing for negative attacks in both Texas and Ohio.

"I would imagine that what you are seeing in Wisconsin is a precursor for Ohio and Texas. We fully expect them to run a very negative campaign."
  • Maria Gavrilovic

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