Obama supporters credit organization, lack of support for war

03/05/08 7:34AM By John Dillon
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(Host) Senator Barrack Obama scored a decisive victory over Hillary Clinton in Vermont's Democratic primary.

The Illinois senator was propelled to a double-digit lead over Senator Hillary Clinton by voters who said they were motivated by the war in Iraq and the need for change in the political landscape.

VPR's John Dillon reports.

(Crowd) "I've got some more Burlington results.. Burlington Ward 7.. Clinton 645, Obama 899... woooo!"

(Dillon) The Obama party was in high gear at the Higher Ground nightclub in South Burlington. The crowd celebrated a victory that party activists said was won by early organization and fierce opposition to the war in Iraq.

Ian Carleton is the chairman of the state Democratic Party and a superdelegate for Obama.

(Carleton)  "You know it's all about grassroots organization in Vermont and I mean both campaigns were very active over the last few weeks. But Senator Obama has had a very active group working on his behalf here in Vermont for a very long time.''

(Dillon) University of Vermont Political Science Professor Garrison Nelson said Obama made a huge impression on voters with a speech in Burlington in 2006.

(Nelson) "He showed up on the UVM campus and the longest lines in my 40 years came to greet him.''

(Dillon) Nelson said that early appearance - and Obama's opposition to the Iraq war - translated into strong organizational support.

(Nelson) "The Obama people were far more organized than the Clinton people. The Clinton people only opened their first office two weeks ago. And they had a total top-down strategy.''

(Dillon) Earlier in the day, voters in Montpelier walked past a thicket of campaign signs stuck in the snow to cast their ballots in City Hall.

Keith Walsh is a 33-year-old state employee. He said the Obama campaign motivated him to get involved as a volunteer.

(Walsh)  "I really think it's time for us to move in a different direction on how our politics are run. And the fact that corporate lobbyists are setting the agenda for our country and the people aren't is a real problem for me. And in the 15 years that I've been eligible to vote in elections, this is the first one I've registered and gone out knocking on doors, because I really believe this is the first time I've had an opportunity to vote for somebody who can make significant changes in how those things are done.''

(Dillon) Exit polls showed that the voters in Vermont were more concerned about the war in Iraq than they were about the worsening economy.

For VPR News, I'm John Dillon.

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