Monday, March 3, 2008

Obama rides wave into Texas

Clinton viewed as underdog in state

AUSTIN, Texas - Barack Obama stood on a stage under smoky blue lights, the pink granite dome of the Texas capitol looming behind him, amid memorials to Texas rangers, Alamo martyrs, and even heroic Confederates.

He looked out at streets packed with thousands of young people in Texas Longhorns sweatshirts, some carrying small children, and car after car of vendors with Obama memorabilia piled on their hoods, and delivered his familiar lines with a Lone Star flair: "John McCain has tethered himself - or, I'm in Texas - he's lassoed himself to George Bush's policies."

In Texas, where size matters, Obama is mounting what may be the most elaborate primary campaign in any state in history: His ads are ubiquitous on radio and television, his famed online operation is bringing together people in towns way off the normal campaign trail, and his rallies - in dramatic settings, showcasing the rampant enthusiasm of his youthful supporters - are advertisements in themselves, for the pure momentum of his candidacy.

Now, with two days until the voting, Obama has been so successful at building the appearance of momentum that he has reversed the conventional wisdom: What was once considered fertile ground for Hillary Clinton is now assumed to be Obama country. A win in Texas could be Obama's knockout blow - but a loss, amid such heightened expectations, may sting a little more than was assumed a few weeks ago.

"Obama is running a movement campaign, sweeping new people in," said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. "She's running a traditional campaign of appealing to Democratic constituencies."

"All is not right in Clintonland," added Bruce Buchanan, political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. – MORE HERE

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