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Wisconsin: Beginning of the end for Clinton?

Barack ObamaPoliticsTelevisionEntertainmentCNN (tv network)University of MinnesotaMSNBC (tv network)

With his victory in Wisconsin's Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, Barack Obama withstood an aggressive assault by rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and gained new momentum for their high-stakes battle ahead in Texas and Ohio.

Obama's win raised new doubts about the Clinton campaign's strategy of casting the Illinois senator as a candidate whose soaring rhetoric masks a lack of preparation for the presidency.

And it showed that Obama is continuing to make inroads into Clinton's coalition of women, the elderly, working-class white voters and other groups. And that, analysts say, spells potential danger for her in the March 4 primaries in Ohio and Texas.

"Her coalition just is not holding," said Lawrence R. Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance. "This could be -- I wouldn't say her Waterloo, but maybe the battle before the Waterloo."

Clinton has tried to stop Obama's momentum in Wisconsin by suggesting he borrowed speech excerpts inappropriately from his political ally, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. The New York senator also opened a TV ad attack on Obama in Wisconsin that slammed him for refusing to debate in the state.

In the end, that charge "insulted people's intelligence," said Wisconsin pollster Paul Maslin, a Democrat watching the nomination battle from the sidelines.

"Do they think people in Wisconsin don't watch MSNBC or Fox or CNN? People know there have been plenty of debates."

michael.finnegan@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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