Obama Campaign Downplays W.Va. Loss
DON GONYEA: This is Don Gonyea with the Obama campaign, not in West Virginia but in Cape Gerardo, Missouri. In fact, watching Obama, it was hard to tell there was even a primary anywhere yesterday. There was no big election night rally, no concession speech. His only campaign event - a Missouri town hall meeting - ended before the polls closed in West Virginia.
A spokesperson told reporters Obama did leave Senator Clinton a cell phone voice message offering congratulations. In a written statement, the campaign downplayed the loss, calling it expected. The release also noted that 28 delegates were at stake in yesterday's voting, of which Obama will get more than a third.
But even if all 28 had gone to Hillary Clinton, it would just offset the number of superdelegates Obama gained over the past week. So at the town hall meeting the candidate was clearly looking to the fall.
Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois): The Bush/Cheney ticket won't be up for reelection, but Bush/Cheney policies will, because John McCain has decided that he is running for George Bush's third term in office. That's what his campaign has been about.
GONYEA: Obama's focus these days is very much on John McCain. He predicted a united Democratic Party in the general election. Hillary Clinton barely got a mention yesterday and then only because a member of the audience asked.
Unidentified Man: If you become the president of the United States, Ms. Clinton, what about Ms. Clinton? Is she going to be your vice president?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Sen. OBAMA: What are you, a reporter? Or you a...
GONYEA: Then the senator, whose campaign emits an irrepressible victor's vibe these days, offered some words of restraint.
Sen. OBAMA: What I've said is I'm not going to talk about vice president this or vice president that until I've actually won. You know, it'd be presumptuous of me to pretend like I've already won and start talking about who my vice president's going to be. I've still got some more work to do, so - but I'll let you know.
GONYEA: The choice to be here in Missouri, in a state that held its primary three months ago, underscores the importance the Obama campaign attaches to the battlegrounds of November. In Cape Gerardo, Obama was in Republican territory in southeast Missouri, the town that produced Rush Limbaugh. It was a chance to repeat his pitch to independents and Republicans. Small business owner Betty Michael is an Obama supporter and a Democrat. But she said it's good that he came to this part of Missouri this early.
Ms. BETTY MICHAEL: It's not just for his own special little group that people like to brand him with, I don't think. I think he has a message for everybody. And I'm hoping my friends are listening down here.
GONYEA: Including the Cape Gerardo Republicans.
Ms. MICHAEL: Including all of them, yes.
GONYEA: After Missouri, the Obama fall campaign plan took him to Michigan, where this morning he's touring a Chrysler plant in suburban Detroit. Then it's a town hall meeting in Macomb County, a place where people first used the term Reagan Democrats in the 1980 election. Then it's a big rally tonight in the Republican stronghold of Grand Rapids, hometown of the late President Gerald Ford.
Don Gonyea, NPR News, traveling with the Obama campaign.