Opinion: Barack Obama’s West Virginia blues

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Barack Obama today launched -- and ended -- what has been a cursory campaign effort on his part in West Virginia, where it appears he’s headed for a shellacking in Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary.

Obama headlined a rally early this afternoon in Charleston, joined by his prime supporter in the state, Sen. Jay Rockefeller. As is typical for an Obama appearance, it proved to be a hot ticket -- the Charleston Gazette reported that passes for the event were scarfed up quickly Sunday.


According to the Gazette, Obama’s volunteers in the Mountain State were thrilled by the response. But it’s doubtful either he or they will have much to be excited about when the primary votes are counted.

A poll released today by Suffolk University in Boston showed Hillary Clinton (pictured here at Tudor’s Biscuit World in Charleston) absolutely waxing Obama in West Virginia, 60% to 24%.

Perhaps the only solace for the Obama camp is that that’s a slight improvement over the results of a survey in the state earlier this month by the American Research Group, which showed him down by 43 percentage points.

Clinton has campaigned extensively in West Virginia since last Tuesday’s results in North Carolina and Indiana gave Obama ...

what many Democratic leaders and political pundits declared was an insurmountable advantage in their race. She was on the stump there on Mother’s Day; reading from a letter she received from a backer, she memorably endorsed the writer’s view that her battle with Obama won’t be over ‘until the lady in the pantsuit says it is.’’

Bill Clinton, meanwhile, has been arduously working the small-town circuit on his wife’s behalf.


Obama, by contrast, last set foot in West Virginia on March 20. True, his huge money supremacy over Clinton allowed his campaign to dominate the local airwaves. But the recent polls are in line with what The Times’ Stephen Braun reported in a story published Saturday -- Obama has made virtually no headway in a state that demographically is stacked against him.

In his speech today, Obama acknowledged his position, expressing his thanks to those West Virginians supporting him but saying he understood that ‘many more’ will likely vote for Clinton.

Their schedules say it all -- while Clinton will be at the Charleston Civic Center Tuesday night, reveling in her expected landslide (the type she could have used in Indiana), Obama will be spending part of his day in Missouri -- a state where he scored a key narrow win way back on Super Tuesday and a state he hopes to put in play against Republican John McCain in a general election matchup.

Intriguingly, Obama will be campaigning in a rural part of Missouri -- Cape Girardeau, the hometown of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.

-- Don Frederick