Obama Wins Wisconsin, Clinton "Fading": "Barack Obama cruised past a fading Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Wisconsin primary Tuesday night, gaining the upper hand in a Democratic presidential race for the ages," AP reports:
It was Obama's ninth straight victory over the past three weeks, and left the former first lady in desperate need of a comeback in a race she long commanded as front-runner.
"The change we seek is still months and miles away," Obama told a boisterous crowd in Houston in a speech in which he also pledged to end the war in Iraq in his first year in office.
"I opposed this war in 2002. I will bring this war to an end in 2009," he declared.
Watch a portion from Obama's speech tonight, courtesy of TPM:
McCain Wins Wisconsin, Blasts Obama's "Empty Call For Change": "Republican John McCain cruised to a comfortable victory in Wisconsin, and criticized Barack Obama in a clear indication he's betting that the Democrat will be his opponent."
"I'm not the youngest candidate. But I am the most experienced," McCain, 71, said, trying to draw a contrast with Obama, the fresh-faced, 46-year-old who is rolling up wins against opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton in a bid to win the Democratic nomination. ...
More broadly, the likely GOP nominee used his victory speech to preview his line of criticism against an Obama candidacy. While he never mentioned Obama by name, McCain's criticism of the Illinois senator was unmistakable. It signaled that McCain's campaign, at this point, believes it will ultimately face Obama in the fall campaign.
"I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change ... that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than the people," McCain said _ a clear reference to Obama, whose soaring rhetoric has led critics, including McCain, to question whether he's all style and no substance.
"Our purpose is to keep this blessed country free, safe, prosperous and proud," McCain added.
He also keyed in on Obama's statements about foreign policy and his willingness to meet with leaders of rogue nations, painting him as a novice who would put the country in danger.
"Will the next president have the experience?" he asked. "Or will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan, and suggested sitting down without preconditions or clear purpose with enemies who support terrorists and are intent on destabilizing the world by acquiring nuclear weapons?"
AP: Race Is Now Obama's To Lose: AP's Ron Fournier reports, "The Democratic nomination is now Barack Obama's to lose."
After nine consecutive defeats -- including a heartbreaker in tailor-made Wisconsin on Tuesday -- Hillary Rodham Clinton can't win the nomination unless Obama makes a major mistake or her allies reveal something damaging about the Illinois senator's background. Don't count her out quite yet, but Wisconsin revealed deep and destructive fractures in the Clinton coalition.
It's panic-button time.
That explains why Clinton's aides accused Obama of plagiarism for delivering a speech that included words that had first been uttered by Deval Patrick, the Massachusetts governor and a friend of Obama. The charge bordered on the hypocritical -- Clinton herself has borrowed Obama's lines -- and by itself was unlikely to have an impact on the race.
Clinton claimed Tuesday that reporters, not her campaign, pushed the plagiarism story line. That is not true.
The Clinton camp hopes to produce other instances of rhetorical theft and show a pattern of bad behavior. The danger for Obama is anything that undercuts his image as a candidate who rises above politics. Something like this might work to Clinton's advantage: Obama is backtracking on a pledge to abide by spending caps in the general election, and his explanation is bogus.
Obama is undeniably raw. Less than four years removed from the Illinois Legislature, he stands at the brink of the Democratic nomination and will soon go one-on-one in debates with a tough and savvy former first lady. The odds of a misstep are low but not impossible for these reasons: Clinton will grow increasingly negative; Obama faces more scrutiny as the new front-runner; his performance in multi-candidates debates was uneven; and the charmed Illinois senator has never faced political crises.
Should Obama stumble in the next two weeks, does he know how to recover?
Clinton certainly knows how to bounce back. She helped her husband, Bill, recover from near-death experiences during his White House run and rebounded herself after a thumping in Iowa.
Networks Cut Clinton Speech For Obama: Watch the video here.
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