Wisconsin Voters Will Ignore Party Lines for Primary With so few candidates left in the presidential race, the Wisconsin primary Feb. 19 feels more like an actual election. In the town of Bloomer, many voters are not sure which candidate they'll support — or even in which party's primary they will vote. The gathering spot, the Main Street Cafe, is rife with political debates.
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Wisconsin Voters Will Ignore Party Lines for Primary

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Wisconsin Voters Will Ignore Party Lines for Primary

Wisconsin Voters Will Ignore Party Lines for Primary

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Wisconsin holds it primary next Tuesday. It's an open primary, where voters can choose from either party.

NPR's Linda Wertheimer is in northwestern Wisconsin, talking to voters. She sampled Wisconsinites' views of the presidential race at the Main Street Cafe in Bloomer.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: The sign on the door of the Main Street Cafe says got pie - and they do. More than 50 varieties come out of their pie shop and travel across mid-Wisconsin, from Hudson to Warsaw. But the cafe is also a gathering place for Bloomer, something you see right across the Midwest, a pine-paneled front room filled with men drinking coffee.

Unidentified Man #1: You get a good deal for me so far.

BLOCK: I see that, right?

WERTHEIMER: We also found a euchre game that goes on every morning, because one player has to go to work and another sits down. The Harings family gets the card table going at 6 a.m.

Jeff Harings own the solar, wind and energy business.

JEFF HARINGS: I'd go with Clinton only because Bill did a pretty good job.

WERTHEIMER: Good job at what?

HARINGS: The whole thing, when he came in. And the whole respected us, wasn't afraid of us. Now, we got the rest of the world doesn't really care about us. They think we're the troublemakers even though we're trying to good. So something really got screwed up there.

WERTHEIMER: Brother Kevin owns an excavation company. Until now, he's always voted Republican.

KEVIN HARINGS: I don't think I will be voting for Hillary, but as it progresses I may change my mind.

WERTHEIMER: So that leaves Obama.

HARINGS: Yes, it does. Just like my brother said, the Republicans have pretty much messed this world up.

WERTHEIMER: So even though you are - you consider yourself a Republican or a leaning Republican, you're going to just walk in and poll a Democratic ballot?

HARINGS: Yes, I am. You know, I think I'm going to do it this year, but don't tell too many people.

WERTHEIMER: Their dad, Leon Harings, is a retired trucker who grew up in an era when today's candidate choices would have been unimaginable.

LEON HARINGS: I've changed my mind every other day. You know, I'm leaning towards a black boy now. I am, just a little bit, yeah. But you might see that later. Like I said, I don't know for sure until I get there. Seems like he's got it up here, you know? Somebody that could straightened this, I hope, this big mess. It is a big mess, the biggest mess we've ever been in as long as I live.

WERTHEIMER: The women of Bloomer come in after mass at St. Paul's for their coffee in the other dining room. Louise Eastland(ph) says she has retired from housework. She, too, is surprised to find herself supporting an African- American.

LOUISE EASTLAND: Well, I'm not going to vote for Mrs. Clinton, so I have to go to Obama or whatever his name is, I don't know. I don't want another Republican, I don't. I'll go with a Democrat. I don't care what they are.

WERTHEIMER: Does that mean if Hillary Clinton should get the nomination, you would vote for her?

EASTLAND: Oh, I would vote for her if I had to.

WERTHEIMER: Just back at the dining room, we stepped into the sweet-smelling pie kitchen.

LINDA ZWIEFELHOFER: (Unintelligible) going three left now in the bottom oven.

WERTHEIMER: Baker Linda Zwiefelhofer rolled out a pie crust, tossed it in a pan and crimped the edge while we talked.

ZWIEFELHOFER: Our dough is homemade dough, made with lard, flour and milk. Our special catch is that they're good.

WERTHEIMER: Zwiefelhofer is leaning Obama, but is not sure he's as practical as Clinton.

ZWIEFELHOFER: She's got lot of good points too. I don't know. With her husband, you know, being there, I cannot think it's going to be him kind of wanting to run it too, and, you know - I don't know. Is that going to work?

WERTHEIMER: Jenny Reischel poured brown sugar, oatmeal and butter into a giant mixer, cream pie topping. She's voting for Clinton.

JENNY REISCHEL: I don't know much about Obama to say if I do like him or if I don't like him. You know, I mean, I don't know him very well. I just heard him when he stood to come out in the presidency. (Unintelligible) Hillary we have no fears with her husband.

WERTHEIMER: The bakers make two types of pies they call oven pies and cooler pies, fruit and cream respectively. They have a special for Valentine's Day: strawberry or raspberry cream.

Danny Stewik(ph) owns the place, so we'll give him the last word.

DANNY STEWIK: I'm voting Obama. I like what he has to say. He's fresh, he's new, he isn't corrupt.

WERTHEIMER: So do you consider yourself a Democrat?

STEWIK: No, absolutely not. I'm Republican.

WERTHEIMER: There seems to be a lot of that happening. And in the traditional Wisconsin open primary, it's perfectly okay.

Linda Wertheimer, NPR News, Bloomer, Wisconsin.

BLOCK: Nine days after Super Tuesday, we now know which Democrat won in New Mexico. The state Democratic chairman announced today that a count of some 17,000 provisional ballots shows that Hillary Clinton is the winner. She gets the one remaining delegate who is still at stake.

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