Monday, February 04, 2008

Some Edwards Backers Gravitate Towards Obama


Some Democratic leaders in Southwest Missouri who supported Senator John Edwards are now shifting their support to Barack Obama, according to a KY3 Political Notebook survey.

But others remain undecided and willing to shift camps just hours before the voting begins on this historic Super Tuesday.

Democratic Camden County Chair Rick Pope was a Edwards supporter who said he's now leaning towards Obama because of his ability to inspire. "Obama energizes young people like no one I've seen since Bobby Kennedy," Pope said. "If he's able to energize young people, I believe we'll be able to carry the state," Pope said, referring to Democrats in the general election.

Countywide, Pope said the Edwards supporters are splitting in half. "It's 50-50. It's breaking among age lines. The younger people are going with Obama, the older people are with Clinton," Pope said.

Christian County Chair Dick Wilson is another Edwards supporter who now plans to support Obama. "He knows the issues facing the Midwest, as far as jobs and the economy. The most electable candidate dropped out, that was John Edwards, but I believe Obama can win. She'll have a tougher time," Wilson said, referring to Hillary Clinton.

He said everyone he knows who supported Edwards is now with Obama. "I see Obama winning Super Tuesday, and possibly our state," Wilson said.

Douglas County Chair Charles Cooper said he'd also probably go with Obama. "I think what's hurting Hillary Clinton now is Bill Clinton," Cooper said. "They're all going for Obama," Cooper said of Douglas County Democratic activists. "From Ava to Gainesville, they're all with Obama."

Springfield Democrat Dave Trippe attended the Edwards' rally last Monday. He said he'd be thrilled with either Clinton or Obama, but said "Obama excites me. He said Obama is probably more electable in the fall. "I know some independents and even some Republicans who'd go for Obama," Trippe said. Teamsters leader Jim Kabell tells the KY3 Political Notebook Obama is also his second choice. "He was a strong labor organizer in Chicago. He's a strong union guy now," Kabell said.

Cathy Hilliard of the Taney County Democratic Party is enthusiastically supporting Obama. She supported Bill Richardson until he dropped out. "Obama just gives people hope," Hilliard said. But she also noted that most of Taney County Edwards' supporters have moved to Hillary Clinton "by a landslide." "Hillary has a strong presence in Taney County," Hilliard noted.

Other Democratic chairs are also sticking by Clinton. "I continue to support Hillary. I'm not going to be bluffed out of it," said Dade County Chair Carolyn Head. Hickory County Chair Henry Garcia also supports Clinton, but his wife Judy is with Obama. "She's just got more things out there with healthcare and the economy," Garcia said.

But then there are those still deciding. Howell County Chair Vicki Hogan went up to St. Louis to hear Obama speak this weekend. When she left, she was still undecided. "A rally is a rally. The reality is a lot harder to deal with," Hogan said. Hogan was with Edwards, but said she is still doing research to decide between Clinton and Obama. "I like Clinton's healthcare package more than Obama's. She covers more people, she has a better grasp of it. But I like Obama's position on education," Hogan said.

She said she's not completely sure about Obama's position on how to get troops out of Iraq. Once she researches more, those details could ultimately decide who wins her vote.

Former Edwards supporter and Webster County Chair Rick Gardner might offer the most fascinating story about how people determine their votes. At the beginning of our conversation, Gardner said he'd "probably go with Barack." "He's got the best chance of beating McCain," Gardner said. But mid-conversation, his wife got his ear. "She thinks I ought to support Hillary, so I'll probably go with what she does," Gardner said.

"Maybe I really haven't made up my mind," Gardner said. "Put me down as a definite maybe," he added, with a chuckle.

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