Minn. Clinton, Obama supporters react to NH primaryby Curtis Gilbert, Minnesota Public Radio
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama each have a win under their belts heading into the next two states to vote in the Democratic presidential nominating contest: Nevada and South Carolina. And after those contests comes Super Duper Tuesday -- Feb. 5t-- when more than 20 states have their say, including Minnesota.
St. Paul, Minn. — More than 100 Obama supporters showed up at O'Gara's Bar and Grill in St. Paul believing the polls -- some showing Obama with as much as a 13 percentage point lead over Clinton in New Hampshire.
But as the results started to trickle in, the room got quieter. After more than two hours of returns showing Clinton in the lead, MSNBC called the race.
Kristin Reid, one of the leaders of the University of Minnesota's Students for Barack Obama chapter, was a little stunned.
"It is really pretty upsetting, because we've been working on this really hard, and we were really hoping," said Reid.
Reid was hoping that a win in New Hampshire would cement Obama as the race's clear frontrunner. Now it's very much up in the air.
Just minutes after the race was called, Matt Reubendale was already thinking about the next contest of the nomination battle.
"Here's to Nevada," said Reubendale. "It'll invigorate this crowd. And we're going to get out there and hit it hard, and we're going to get everybody to see it our way. New Hampshire's a small population."
On the Clinton side, Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, was on a national conference call with other prominent Clinton supporters from around the country when New Hampshire was called.
"I think there were several governors and other speakers on the line," said Kelliher. "You could hear through who was on the line, and people were very excited."
Kelliher said it was important for Clinton to do well in New Hampshire.
"I think it was very important in terms of showing her strength, and her strength to connect with people," Kelliher said. "I'm just pleased that she did, and I think it bodes well for the future."
Political scientist Dan Hofrenning is in New Hampshire for the primaries, with a group of his students from St. Olaf College in Northfield. He was surprised by Clinton's win, and said it may indicate that Democratic voters are torn between Clinton and Obama.
"I think there probably is some sense in which this race may see-saw for a long time," said Hofrenning. "They're two candidates who are similar in their policy ideas, but very different in style."
Obama and Clinton both want to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq, and they'd both leave a limited force there to deal with terrorism and keep an eye on Iran.
They both want to repeal the Bush tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 a year. They even support the same level of investment in alternative energy -- $150 billion over ten years -- to reduce the need for foreign oil.
The two have argued about health care in recent debates, because Clinton would require all Americans to get health insurance, while Obama would only require that all children are insured. But Hofrenning calls it a question of nuance.
"You'd have to spend a long time studying to see the differences on health care policy, and I don't think they're significant. On the big salient issues, they're sounding pretty similar."
Hofrenning said especially in light of Clinton's win in New Hampshire, it's hard to predict which candidate Democrats will ultimately choose. On Friday, he and his students head to one of the next big battlegrounds: South Carolina.
- Morning Edition, 01/09/2008, 7:20 a.m.