Presidential hopefuls continue their stump across Wisconsinby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
Four of the presidential candidates are campaigning in Wisconsin today just one day before that state's presidential primary.
On the Democratic side, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are arguing over which candidate is better equipped to lead the country. The likely Republican nominee, John McCain, is working to fend off Mike Huckabee's longshot bid.
Eau Claire, Wis. — When Wisconsin voters head to the polls Tuesday, they have two choices to make. First, they have to decide whether they want to vote in the Republican or Democratic primary. Then, they have to choose their presidential candidate.
Tom Adams of La Crosse was one of 300 people who attended John McCain's townhall meeting in La Crosse last Friday. Adams said he will vote for McCain on Tuesday, but he is open to voting for a Democrat in November.
Adams, who's retired, said he's worried that higher food prices, the cost of gasoline and added taxes could eat into his fixed income. He wants to see candidates address the economy.
"It seems like in Washington that they're on a spending spree and they don't want to stop, and that's a big concern of mine," said Adams.
McCain's appearance also drew Dylan Rude, who's having trouble deciding between McCain and Democrat Barack Obama. Rude, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, said he wanted to know more about McCain's plans for higher education.
"I want to see what he has to offer the college students, because we're having a tough time paying for college and it's really tough for us to pay it off," Rude said.
Voter positions were more clear cut at the Ringside Bar and Grill in La Crosse. About 30 customers are in the bar for the Friday night fish fry.
Chris and Keri Patterson of La Crosse are enjoying a date without their three young children. Chris, a parochial school teacher, said he'd like to see lower taxes. Keri, a stay-at-home mom, said her top issue is her opposition to abortion. They hoped that McCain would be a bit more conservative, but he is their best alternative in November.
"I'm sure he's going to get the Republican nomination, and that's who I will probably be voting for," Chris said.
"More so than Obama and Clinton," Keri added with a laugh.
Across the bar, Pamela Kendall said she intends to vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday, but she is willing to support Hillary Clinton if she wins the nomination.
Kendall said she's concerned about the cost of health care, the economy and the war in Iraq. She wants U.S. troops to come home immediately.
"I don't think we need to be there. We have too many problems in America, just like we just learned that the people in New Orleans have to get out of those trailers. That should come before the Iraq war," Kendall said.
Kendall said she likes Obama best, because she thinks the country needs a complete overhaul and thinks he's the best candidate to do that.
About 3,000 people who share Kendall's views attended a Saturday Obama rally in Eau Claire. Jason Gamroth of Independence was one of the many who waited in long lines to get into the event on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Gamroth works for a furniture maker and said he's worried that an economic downturn could mean bad news for his business.
"If things are going bad with the housing market and things like that, people aren't buying as much product. It squeezes all the way down to every little worker there," explained Gamroth. While many attending the Obama event were speculating on the race for president, a different sort of race was taking place on a lake 15 miles north of Eau Claire.
The Wissota Lake Trail Blazers held their annual snowmobile racing contest, to raise money for the snowmobile trails in the region.
Matt Robison of Eau Claire said he's not sure if he's going to vote for Mike Huckabee, or switch to the other party and choose Barack Obama. He said Obama is straightforward, but he likes Huckabee's small government ideas.
Robison said he's opposed to universal health care and has concerns about the war in Iraq. As with his view of the candidates, Robison said he's also conflicted about the situation in Iraq, especially since his brother served there for two years.
"Do I think we should have been there? No. But do we just pull out, cut and run, and say, 'Hey, screw it, we're out,'" said Robison. "We got a lot of people who lost their lives over there. Don't make it for nothing."
Wisconsin election officials are predicting heavy turnout Tuesday. They are projecting 1.5 million voters at the polls -- 35 percent of the eligible voters in the state.
- All Things Considered, 02/18/2008, 5:23 p.m.