Rep. Keith Ellison, DFL-Minn., seemed as energized as if he had just won the Iowa caucuses on Thursday night.
“You believe that one?” said Ellison, talking to a crowd of about a hundred Barack Obama supporters gathered in St. Paul. “Wait ’till he comes to Minnesota!”
Ellison had reason to be happy. Obama won the Iowa caucuses on Thursday night, winning 38 percent of the delegates to the state convention and bragging rights in the first major test of the 2008 presidential campaign. Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., finished second with 30 percent of delegates, while Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who is Obama’s chief rival for the nomination, finished third with 29 percent.
|“Picking up steam”: Edwards supporters express hope for campaign|
by Jeff Fecke, Minnesota Monitor
Supporters of former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., gathered in Golden Valley Thursday night to watch returns from the Iowa caucuses, and were generally upbeat about the future of the Edwards campaign.
“Unless he comes in 20 [percentage] points behind, the campaign will go on,” said Laura Nevitt of Minnesota for Edwards. “The campaign is picking up steam, and his message is starting to resonate.”
Former DFL state Sen. Ted Mondale agreed.
“I feel like he’s catching fire at the right time,” Mondale said, though he declined to predict the ultimate outcome of the night’s caucuses.
“I don’t predict caucuses,” Mondale said, though he allowed that he thought Edwards would do well.
Edwards ultimately finished second in the caucuses with 30 percent of the vote, eight percentage points behind Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. But Edwards will face an uphill battle in the next two major tests in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Edwards trails in both races.
Ellison was not the only excited Obama supporter. At one point, the room erupted into an ad-libbed “Obama Hop,” to the tune of the Bunny Hop.
Obama supporter Grace Kelly credited the campaign’s organization with the victory.
“We knew it was pretty much tied going in,” Kelly said. “This [victory] is organization.”
Rep. Betty McCollum, DFL-Minn., said that Obama’s victory was not the end of the road.
“We’re going to be really busy,” said McCollum. “It’s going to be all of us working together.”
But McCollum said Obama was a candidate worth backing.
“He speaks with people, not to people,” she said. “It’s a two-way dialog. He listens, he thinks, and then he finds a solution.”
The crowd was almost as happy about Clinton’s third-place finish as Obama’s victory. Clinton has been viewed as the front-runner in this campaign, but with Obama’s victory and Clinton’s finish, it’s possible that has changed.