Saturday, March 01, 2008

Iowa Gov rounds up support for Obama

Iowa Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, had some nice things to say about Barack Obama when he visited Cheyenne today.

For example, Obama will make the strongest Democratic Party candidate and president. "He can go the distance," Culver said. "Not only can he beat Hillary, he can beat John McCain."

Culver cited a poll that appeared in last Sunday's Des Moines Register which showed that Obama would beat McCain 53-36 percent, but that McCain would beat Hillary Clinton 49-40 percent.

In red-state Kansas, a recent poll showed that Hillary Clinton would lose to John McCain by 34 percentage points. Obama, on the other hand, would lose by only four points. That latter percentage is within the range that can be made up before the November election.

Kansas now has a Democrat as governor. So a shift toward Obama is not out of the question.

Gov. Culver declared for Obama after meeting and talking to all the Dem candidates during the months leading up to the Iowa caucuses. He's urged other Democratic governors (there's 28 of them) to do the same. When asked how we Wyomingites could get our own Governor Freudenthal on the Obama bandwagon, Culver said, "I'm working on him."

Gov. Freudenthal is one of four Dem governors along the Rocky Mountain Front who haven't yet endorsed a presidential candidate. Others are Ritter in Colorado, Schweitzer in Montana, and Richardson in New Mexico (remember him?).

In the West, Dems play it close to the vest when it comes to politics. We know that Clinton superdelegates have been asked to keep it quiet. Maybe that's why we haven't heard an endorsement from our superdelegate governor.

Gov. Culver didn't whip us into an Obama frenzy, but he did get us cranked to go out and knock on doors. After Obama field coordinator Patrick Lane gave us some detailed instructions, we grabbed clipboards and marched to victory.

Here was our team: Sara B, fellow writer, activist and new mom; G, an African-American state highway patrolman who, until last week, was a registered Republican; and a Baby Boomer lawyer, his Mexican-born wife (to translate when we ran into Spanish-speaking households) and their teen son. We spread out over a Southside neighborhood and knocked on as many doors of registered Dems as we could in two hours.

I didn't find any strong Obama supporters. A middle-aged woman who held a yapping dog while we talked said she was undecided but could be persuaded. Health care was a big issue for her, since she didn't have any. She was planning to go to the March 8 caucus. We had a nice talk about the candidates but, in the end, she was still on the fence.

It was a warm day with little wind. One man (not on our convassing list) was outside watering his front lawn. We chatted for a bit but he never asked about my "Wyoming for Obama" T-shirt. I moved on. I encountered one strong Hillary supporter whose husband (not at home) was undecided. One middle-aged Hispanic man with four big-tired pickups in his driveway would only say that his wife was the registered Democrat and he would give her the info.

When I turned in my canvassing lists, Sara told the story of a man she and G had talked to. When they walked up, he was under the hood of his classic Caddie. He was stand-offish at first, Sara said, until G started talking to him about cars. As they talked, the gearhead admitted his disdain for the Bush regime and strong support for Obama. He would be at the caucus. Score one for our side.

More tomorrow....

Photo: Iowa Gov. Chet Culver talks to Dems assembled at Obama HQ in Cheyenne for a day of canvassing. At right is Wyoming Obama campaign director Gabe Cohen; at left is field director Patrick Lane. Photo by Deb Fischer.

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