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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Will Obama visit the Nutmeg State?


By Gregory B. Hladky
Capitol Bureau Chief
HARTFORD
— Monday’s campaign stop in Connecticut by U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York so far hasn’t led to any plans by her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination to make similar visits before the Feb. 5 primary.
But state Democratic Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said Clinton’s chief Democratic opponent, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, may take more notice of Connecticut now.
"I certainly think it should make him pay attention," said DiNardo, "that Hillary thought enough about Connecticut to come, so that he might do it, too."
Reid Cherlin, Obama’s Connecticut campaign spokesman, said there are no current plans to bring the candidate here.
"We don’t know yet," Cherlin said. "His schedule isn’t set yet … we’re hoping."
Cherlin said the candidate’s wife, Michelle Obama, is scheduled to visit this state Wednesday for a campaign fundraiser in Fairfield County, and a public event as well. Cherlin said times and locations haven’t been determined yet.
Many political experts were doubtful Clinton, Obama or any of the other major Democratic or Republican candidates would bother coming to this small state in advance of the Feb. 5 vote.
The so-called "Super Duper" primaries and caucuses on that date will involve 22 states, including major population centers such as New York, California and Illinois that have far more delegates at stake than little Connecticut.
John Orman, a professor of politics at Fairfield University, said Clinton’s campaign organization is working hard in Connecticut and recent polls show her with a commanding lead over Obama.
"Barack may just figure that Connecticut is so small and so much for Hillary that he might not come," said Orman. He said Obama’s campaign is likely to concentrate on larger states "where he has a chance for an upset."
"But if he does come, I think he’d be really well received here in Connecticut," Orman added.
Meanwhile, several state lawmakers who support Obama’s candidacy said at a news conference that havingObama would be the strongest candidate the Democrats could have in November. They argued that having him at the top of the ticket would bring independents and even some Republicans out to vote, which could help other Democrats running for office.
Gregory B. Hladky can be contacted at ghladky@nhregister.com or (860) 524-0719.

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