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WBFO brings you NPR's live coverage of the Republican National Convention tonight from 9pm-11pm.

Obama Hopes to Clean Up February Contests


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm Steve Inskeep.

You can trace the strategies of the leading Democratic presidential candidates just by noticing where they woke up this morning. Barack Obama crushed Hillary Clinton in three East Coast primaries yesterday - Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. But neither candidate spent the night at the scene of the voting.

Clinton has already moved ahead to campaign in primaries she hopes to win next month. Obama has moved on to what he hopes will be his next big win. And we begin our coverage with NPR's Don Gonyea.

DON GONYEA: The Obama campaign celebrated yesterday's primary trifecta on campus at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Once again it was a jam-packed basketball arena, this time with more than 18,000 in the stands. Wisconsin is next up in this year's race for the presidency, and Governor Jim Doyle, an Obama supporter, warmed up the crowd before the main act took to the stage.

Governor JIM DOYLE (Democrat, Wisconsin): He hasn't won one state straight or two straight or three straight. With Maryland, he has won eight straight elections.

(Soundbite of applause)

GONYEA: Governor Doyle's tally includes six states, plus Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands. But the Obama campaign does seem to have developed some real momentum.

(Soundbite of applause)

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Presidential Candidate): This is how you guys do it in Madison, huh?

(Soundbite of applause)

GONYEA: Senator Obama now leads Hillary Clinton in delegates, though only by about 20, and each candidate is roughly halfway to the magic number needed to secure the nomination. Last night in Madison, Obama said the states he has carried so far demonstrate his broad appeal, and his electability.

Sen. OBAMA: We have now won East and West, North and South, and across the heartland of this country we love.

(Soundbite of applause)

GONYEA: The senator continued...

Sen. OBAMA: We have given young people a reason to believe and we have brought - and we have brought the young at heart back to the polls who want to believe again.

GONYEA: And more and more, Obama is looking to a potential general election match-up with Republican John McCain, whom he describes as a continuation of the policies of President Bush.

Sen. OBAMA: Senator McCain said the other day that we might be mired for 100 years in Iraq.

(Soundbite of booing)

Sen. OBAMA: A hundred years, which is reason enough not to give him four years in the White House.

GONYEA: Exit polls from Virginia show that Obama did well among young voters and African-Americans yesterday, as usual. But this time he also carried half the white vote and won both men and women by 60 percent or better.

The senator will spend much of the coming week in Wisconsin. Today, he delivers a speech on the economy at a large General Motors assembly plant in Janesville. He also has events in Racine and Waukesha. For now he's got the state to himself with Hillary Clinton campaigning in Texas, which votes on March 4th.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, in Madison, Wisconsin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Don Gonyea
You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.