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2008-03-04

Super Tuesday II: Today’s Primaries and Caucuses Could Decide the Democratic Nominee; We Get Reports from Texas, Ohio and Vermont

Guests

Wayne Slater, senior political writer with the Dallas Morning News and co-author of Rove Exposed: How Bush’s Brain Fooled America

David Rohde, Professor of Political Science at Duke University

Harvey Wasserman, independent journalist based in Colombus, Ohio and co-author of Ohio’s Stolen Election: Voices of the Disenfranchised. Harvey Wasserman is senior editor of the Ohio-based freepress.org

David Goodman, journalist in Vermont

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Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater, Harvey Wasserman of FreePress.org in Ohio and journalist David Goodman of Vermont discuss today’s vote. In Texas, Slater explains the state’s complex voting system and why the Clinton campaign is pressuring the Democratic Party not to release partial results from tonight’s caucus. In Ohio, voter integrity activists have secured new victories in their attempt to prevent more stolen elections. And in Vermont, town meeting members in Brattleboro vote on whether to "indict" President Bush and Dick Cheney. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: All eyes are on Texas and Ohio today, where voters head to the polls in two crucial nominating contests that could decide the fate of the Democratic presidential nomination.

    UNDECIDED VOTER: I’ve got mixed emotions on the subject at the moment.

    INTERVIEWER: Who are you swinging between?

    UNDECIDED VOTER: Hillary and Obama, Democrat.

    CLINTON SUPPORTER: We’ve got support for Hillary Clinton. It’s been very positive for the households that we’ve called upon thus far. And we’ve got people that said they have already voted. And then, the house that we just were at said that they intend to vote over at the rec center on behalf of Hillary Clinton. So we’re very confident that she will carry and do very well in the state of Ohio.

    OHIO VOTER: I’ve been here eight years, and I think this is the first presidential race that Ohio has been really involved in.

    OBAMA SUPPORTER: Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama. I don’t know. It’s absolutely like a new — it’s a new hope, and it’s a new generation. I feel like I finally have something to vote for, instead of a lesser of two evils.

    UNDECIDED VOTER: You know, I haven’t really decided. I’m still tossing it around, to tell you the truth. I watched the debate, and I’m still tossing things around. I really don’t know.

    CLINTON SUPPORTER: How are you doing?

    OBAMA CAMPAIGNER: Hi, sorry.

    OBAMA CAMPAIGNER: Hi, how are you?

    OBAMA CAMPAIGNER: Great. I’m Deanna, and we’re with the Barack Obama campaign.

    CLINTON SUPPORTER: Oh, well, I’m so sorry you made this stop. I’m a Hillary fan.

    OBAMA CAMPAIGNER: Oh, really?

    CLINTON SUPPORTER: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Polls show Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in close races in both Ohio and Texas. Obama has said Clinton may have to quit if he wins in both states, but she has vowed to stay in the race. Rhode Island and Vermont vote on Tuesday, as well.

A total of 370 delegates are at stake in the four races, which include sixty-four delegates up for grabs in Texas caucuses, which are separate from the state’s primary and begin after the daylong primary vote. Obama has spent twice as much as Clinton on TV ads in Texas, including ones in Spanish. Hispanics account for about one-in-five eligible voters in Texas.

A loss by Clinton in either Texas or Ohio could set off a stampede of party support for Obama, increase pressure on Clinton to drop out and make it even tougher for her to catch up to his lead in pledged delegates. According to the Associated Press, Obama currently has 1,385 delegates to Clinton’s 1,276. A total of 2,025 is needed to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination at its national convention in August.

Wayne Slater is the senior political writer with the Dallas Morning News, co-author of Rove Exposed: How Bush’s Brain Fooled America. He joins us from Dallas, Texas. We’re also joined on the telephone by David Rohde, a professor of political science at Duke University.

David Rohde, let’s begin with you, just for the general shape of these four states and why Texas and Ohio are so significant.

DAVID ROHDE: Well, they’re significant because they’re really the last chance for Senator Clinton to make significant inroads in the delegate lead that Obama has. Because the Democrats award their delegates by proportional representation, to make any significant gains in delegates, she has to win by a substantial margin. And that’s the real challenge for her.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk a little about Rhode Island and Vermont, not talked as much about, though folks are going to the polls in both of those smaller states, as well.

DAVID ROHDE: Well, there are a lot fewer delegates at stake, but given the state of the race, every delegate’s important now, especially to Clinton now. So Rhode Island, for example, is a state in which she’s had — maintained a substantial lead, even after the lead in Texas and Ohio has dwindled down, so it’s a chance for her to make some gains.

AMY GOODMAN: Wayne Slater, you write for the Dallas Morning News, co-author of Rove Exposed. Talk about the unusual system in Texas. You have both a primary and a caucus for Democratic voters. How did that happen?

WAYNE SLATER: Basically, it was the product back in 1988 in the Democratic Party of a reform movement. The idea was that the party officials wanted to get Democrats more actively involved in the affairs of the party, so they thought if we hold a caucus on the evening of an election, a primary election, we could have real people show up, get involved in party affairs.

But what’s happened is that this primary process has become very complicated, very contentious. And so, what you have are about a third of the delegates tonight are going to be decided by the popular vote across the state, and then people who have voted at one point, either early or today, go to their caucus tonight, maybe at a school or a firehouse or somewhere else, where they’ll vote again and distribute another one-third of Texas delegates. We may not know how that full distribution goes for a day or two.

AMY GOODMAN: But explain how that whole system took place. I mean, it’s one of the only places in the country —- it’s not for the Republicans, is that right? -— a caucus and a primary, only for the Democrats.

WAYNE SLATER: That’s right. Again, it was a product of people wanting to bring Democrats into the party in an active involvement. So they said, we’ll have these precinct conventions at night, where the delegates — the people who voted can show up with their neighbors in 8,000 places around Texas and vote again for the distribution of other delegates. Now, what’s happened in the process is that the distribution of delegates, say, for the two-thirds is based on how the party voted, how Democrats voted, in the last two elections. Basically, if you voted a lot, if you’re in a place like Houston or Dallas or Austin, had a good Democratic turnout in the last two elections, you’ve got lots of delegates.

Well, what’s happened this year is that Barack Obama has done pretty well in places — expected to do pretty well in places that have a lot of delegates: Austin, with young people; Houston and Dallas, with large African American populations. Hispanic Texans generally do not turn out in big numbers in general elections based on this formula. So, you have the Barack — you have the Hillary Clinton people, who expect to do very well among Hispanics in South Texas, with fewer opportunities to pick up delegates. It’s odd because a vote in Dallas, in effect, is worth more than a vote in South Texas. Again, it was a product of a reform effort to improve the party, but it’s now become really a subject of criticism.

AMY GOODMAN: And it means that you vote twice?

WAYNE SLATER: It does. You basically — I’ll go to the polls today in my polling place, and I’ll vote. And then, tonight — I’m actually not going to be one — but tonight, I would then show up at that place or somewhere nearby at my precinct caucus, my precinct convention. I’ll gather into a room, and there will be — the whole goal is — and obviously the Clinton and Obama people are both trying to get people not only out to vote today, but get people into those rooms tonight. It will kind of be a mini Iowa, where you’ll sign in, and you’ll say, “I’m for Clinton,” “I’m for Obama.” There will be an effort to encourage people to switch, one side of the other. There will be discussions. They could be lengthy discussions. It could be fairly short. And at the end of the process, at this process, there will be a leader who will say, OK, we voted for Clinton by a certain percentage, or for Obama. And that information is then forwarded to the state party, who will then use it in its complicated formula to distribute one-third of its pledged delegates at stake. It’s real complicated, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think it’s going to change. It sounds like even a lot of people in Texas didn’t know exactly how this worked.

WAYNE SLATER: I guarantee you people — I guarantee you, good solid Democrats didn’t know how this was going to work, because until this year, it hasn’t mattered. The only people who were showing up for these caucuses were the kind of real activist neighborhood Democrats who would want to go and talk about what resolution they want to be presented to the state convention in the summer and that kind of thing. But this year, because Texas is in play — and remember, this is George Bush’s state, and Texas, for the last generation, has really had little say in primary elections, in terms of the presidential side, any significance. Our election was so late, we were so relatively unimportant. But this year, because of the nature of things, this extraordinarily close contest where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are effectively tied in most polls here in the state, every vote counts, every delegate counts. So these arcane processes that nobody was paying attention to have critical importance.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, the Clinton campaign has been saying that the caucus results should not be released right away. Why is that? Explain how it works.

WAYNE SLATER: Yeah, their argument is that because it’s so complicated — basically, there’s two sides to this now. Because it’s so complicated, that if you actually begin to release partial caucus results — remember, after the polls close at 7:00 here, the caucus can begin. But there could be long lines. The polls may not close ’til 7:30 or 8:00, and it’s only then that your caucus starts. The caucus could go on for hours. And if you have a partial release of these delegates that are distributed in the caucus, it might give a false sense of what’s going on in the process.

What’s really going on, Amy, is that the Clinton people understand that the Barack Obama forces are really extraordinary and have been on the ground, and they’re likely to do very well in this caucus. Hillary Clinton — I think the professor was exactly right. Hillary Clinton has to win Ohio and Texas today, or it’s really difficult to see how her campaign can succeed, because she’s behind in the delegates. Her goal tonight is to win the popular vote in Texas; if she does, declare victory and say, “Let’s worry about that delegate distribution until later.” She doesn’t want a release of the caucus delegate distribution, which is likely to favor Obama, to muddy a message in the event that she wins the popular vote. She wants to say, "I win, and let’s move on."

AMY GOODMAN: So who determines this? Who’s going to decide whether the caucus, preliminary caucus results are released immediately or held onto?

WAYNE SLATER: The Texas Democratic Party. And all signals I’m getting — and I’ve been on the phone with them every day — all signals I’m getting from the Texas Democratic Party is they’re going to release every piece of information that they have as quickly as they get it. I think their intent — and I know that the party’s intention is to be fair to everyone and to — when they get caucus information from these 8,000 caucuses, they’re going to interpret it, because it has to be interpreted — what does it mean — and then release that information to the media. They’ve actually set up a room at party headquarters here in Austin to do that.

The complicating factor is not their intent, which may be good, it’s this thing is so complicated, it really is a function of what happens in these 8,000 sites? Do they actually gather the information? Will they actually get this information to the party? I could see hundreds and hundreds of these caucuses fighting until well into the evening, so that the state party really doesn’t know what’s going on. My guess is we’ll have some sense tonight, certainly a good sense about the popular vote, and I think we’ll have the beginning of a sense of what’s happening in the caucus vote tonight, before it’s all over.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Wayne Slater, the major issues right now in Texas, what are they fighting over?

WAYNE SLATER: You know, there was a discussion earlier about NAFTA, I know, and that really is not a significant issue here as it is in Ohio. Healthcare is important. And taxes, obviously, are important on the Republican side. On the Democratic side, I think you’re talking about fundamentally an effort to move beyond the Bush years. I think one of Barack Obama’s most popular lines I heard the other day in San Antonio at a huge rally was, “You know, George W. Bush is not on the ballot in Texas.” Got a great response. And he said, “You guys are going to have to take him back.” And you heard people in the audience say, “No, no! We don’t want him!” And Barack said, “No, that’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to have to take him back.” It really is a turning the page on the Bush years.

And I really think this issue that Hillary Clinton has raised about Barack Obama’s experience, whether he is up to the job of being commander-in-chief, may be a significant moment for her here in Texas. She needs to freeze the field among swing voters, who are largely women, a small group of women who could go and really like both of these candidates. And her commercial — who do you want in the White House at 3:00 in the morning when someone calls and there’s an international crisis? — that commercial, I sense, is playing very well among women who are reassessing and, again, like both of these candidates but want to think, “Is Hillary Clinton the right person? Is Barack Obama up to the job?” I don’t know who’s going to win, but I know that that — the stewardship of this country after the Bush years and going into a new era is something that I think Texas voters are taking very seriously.

AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of the Hispanic vote, Wayne Slater?

WAYNE SLATER: Enormous, enormous. And basically, what we expect is that 35 percent or 40 percent of the vote here in Texas is going to be Hispanic, much of it from South Texas, some from Houston and Dallas. Hillary Clinton, if history is any indication — we saw that in California, or I saw her and covered her there — the indications are she’s doing very well among this vote. She’s got to get at least two-thirds of these Hispanic votes. That’s her edge. Barack Obama is doing very well among African Americans, who will represent maybe 20, 25 percent of the vote. But Hispanics are a population that are key to her in the primary. Hispanics do vote in the primary, in large part because they have local races, judge races and other things in South Texas that are important. The Clinton name is very, very well thought of from years of attention in South Texas. Hillary Clinton has brought Henry Cisneros, who is a kind of mini god here in Texas among many Democrats and certainly people in South Texas. So she must hold onto that. If Barack Obama can eat into more than a third of that Hispanic vote, especially young Latinos, then Hillary Clinton is in trouble.

AMY GOODMAN: Your paper, Wayne Slater, though you’re in Austin, the Dallas Morning News, endorsed Mike Huckabee over John McCain, though he could clinch it tonight as the Republican nominee — McCain, that is. Why Huckabee?

WAYNE SLATER: I think that the — now, remember, Amy, I’m a reporter. I’m not on the editorial side of it, and I wasn’t involved in making that decision. But I know what our paper said was, we know that Huckabee is not going to win, but Huckabee expressed — our paper is fairly conservative. It’s fairly conservative economically and more moderate on social issues. And we know Huckabee is wrong on abortion, and we know Huckabee is wrong on gay marriage —- on gay rights, but we feel that Huckabee expresses the kind of sunny-side optimism that the conservative part of the Republican Party is missing. After eight years of Karl Rove and George Bush and polarization and divide-and-conquer, then the Republican Party has to reassess and redefine itself if it’s going to be successful. And the kind of conservative attitudes and the kind of conservative candidacy that Mike Huckabee has expressed is exactly the kind of thing that our paper says the Republicans have to do if they are to be successful against what is obviously an enormous way for change and what looks like a Democratic year.

AMY GOODMAN: And being that you are the co— author of Bush’s Brain and Rove Exposed: How Bush’s Brain Fooled America, finally, Wayne Slater, how the Bush administration is thought of in Bush’s home state of Texas?

WAYNE SLATER: Well, it’s thought of better here, Amy, than it is in many other places. But, you know, once upon a time, George Bush had a 70 percent popularity — job approval rating here in Texas. It is now below 50 percent, maybe about 40 percent. That’s higher than in many other states. I think there is a sense, and I talked to — and I’ve known these people for twenty years, people who worked with George Bush in his administration. There is a clear sense that this administration is a failed one, that George Bush, who was a really well thought of figure in Texas, is someone who may not have been up to the job in the presidency. I think there is some sense of embarrassment by some moderates in Texas. Sure, there are Republicans who will defend this administration pretty much along the lines that Rove and Bush have espoused. But I think there is a sense that he was a pretty good guy, was able to pull people together in Texas, didn’t do a bad job as governor, but has failed and has mismanaged the job of presidency.

AMY GOODMAN: Wayne Slater, I want to thank you for being with us, senior political writer with the Dallas Morning News, co-author of Rove Exposed: How Bush’s Brain Fooled America. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, the War and Peace Report. When we come back, we move from Austin, Texas to Columbus, Ohio, the other big state of the four that have primaries and caucuses today. We’ll go to Ohio. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We go from Texas to Ohio, another state with primaries today, joined on the telephone from Columbus by Harvey Wasserman, independent journalist, co-author of Ohio’s Stolen Election: Voices of the Disenfranchised. Harvey Wasserman is senior editor at the Ohio-based freepress.org and editor of nukefree.org.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Harvey Wasserman. Where have you been spending your time over the last few days in this lead-up to today’s vote?

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Well, I was in Cleveland yesterday. I’m in Columbus today. And I got to tell you, the weather is miserable. It’s cold and rainy here in Columbus. It’s cold and snowy up north. They actually moved election workers into hotels in some areas last night to make sure that they’d be available at the polls today. So I think all the conventional wisdom, all the polling, is at the mercy now of the weather. And it’s really hard to predict who will be affected, Obama or Clinton. We would know — if today was Election Day, it would be a bad for the Democrats, because bad weather always hurts the Democrats in Ohio. But it’s unclear whether it’s going to hurt or help either Obama or Clinton at this point.

AMY GOODMAN: I remember in 2004 those long lines at Kenyon College in the terrible weather, where people were standing in line for hours and hours, waiting to vote.

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Right. That was a setup. The Republicans did that on purpose, as we know, as you know from our many talks. The Kenyon College voters, some of them waited eleven hours, because there were two voting machines there, and one of them mysteriously broke down at around 11:00 in the morning. But the kids stayed it out. Many of them there were ’til 4:00 in the morning, although they were only allowed to vote because of a court order.

Yesterday — now, we have a new secretary of state. We did have the infamous J. Kenneth Blackwell, who we, if we want to put it this way, credit for stealing the 2004 election for George Bush. Now we have Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, who has really worked very hard to have a fair and open election here. She has opened the polls early. There were actually lines yesterday, because people knew that the weather was — the weather was very nice yesterday. Many, many people came out to vote and to bring in their absentee paper ballots, and there were lines just to deliver their paper ballots here in Franklin County, because it was a beautiful day, and they knew that the weather today was going to be miserable.

AMY GOODMAN: Harvey Wasserman, are you saying that ultimately on Election Day it hurts the Democrats more, because the Democrats rely on just getting more people out?

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Yes, that’s been — actually, there’s always been a rule of thumb in Ohio: bad weather, the Republicans win; good weather, the Democrats win. And actually it’s held up pretty well. So the Democratic Party had better hope that Election Day come November is not like today.

But we will have a very different situation in November because of the actions, frankly, of the election protection movement in this country and the victory of the Democrats in the 2006 election here, where we actually had a fair vote count for a change. The Democratic Secretary of State has been very open and aggressively committed to switching the state to paper ballots, and she will also keep the polls open and do everything possible — up until this year — to ensure a fair vote. Up until this year, to vote absentee, you had to provide a reason why you would not be in the county in order to obtain an absentee ballot. Now, there’s no such requirement. You can just request an absentee ballot, as I did, for this primary, and get one. You can get it in the mail. You can mail it back in. Really, under the Democrats, there have been tremendous strides in making vote counting and vote casting open and easy.

AMY GOODMAN: And the issue of Diebold, the maker of the electronic voting machines, being taken over, Harvey Wasserman? Voting machines, a major issue for you.

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Well, you raised this last night. It’s an interesting situation. United Technologies, which is a major defense contractor, has made a very large bid for Diebold, who made the voting machines on which much of the vote was stolen in 2004. As of this morning, Diebold has rejected the bid. Now, whether this is all bidding and, you know, maneuvering for money, we will see.

There’s an interesting conflict going on, though. Voting machines — electronic voting machines were brought into Cleveland to Cuyahoga County at the cost of $20 million over the extreme objections of many of the citizens and the election protection movement up there. And now, Jennifer Brunner, after just one election, is rejecting those machines and switching the county over to paper ballots. What Diebold’s future may be as an election voting machine — electronic voting machine company, we don’t know. I mean, we’re hoping nationwide that electronic voting machines will be done away with entirely by November, but we don’t know.

There is, of course, as you well know, a very important case in front of the US Supreme Court that will affect the outcome, which is the question of a voter ID, photo voter ID. It’s an Indiana case. The State of Indiana has put forward a demand for voter ID with a photograph. The opposition, I think correctly, says this is a poll tax. This court case has been heard in front of the Supreme Court. The reports were that the — at least certainly the four Republican justices will uphold this, and they could have a big impact, because if photo voter ID is required in many states, it very strongly favors the Republicans, because a lot of older people, younger people, poor people, don’t have photo ID, and they could be disenfranchised. This is something very important that people need to watch around the country.

AMY GOODMAN: Interesting also that Charlie Black, who is a lobbyist for United Technologies, is also the top campaign adviser for, campaign manager for John McCain.

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Yes. There will be blood, as they say. They’re going to be trying to — they will do everything they can to disenfranchise people coming November. It’s going to be a little more difficult. I think that we can be very proud in this country, and your show has certainly helped, of the building of an election protection movement that has made a difference. I don’t think that the Democrats would control Congress right now, as much as it’s been worth anything to, had it not been for an election protection movement that really prevented a rerun of what happened in 2004 and 2002 in this country with the Karl Rove Republicans stealing many elections and many votes. But it’s not going to be a perfect situation, and this photo voter ID is extremely important.

I will mention to you, in Ohio, we have — you’re allowed to present one of seventeen different types of identification, many of which do not require a photo. So, you know, it is possible to have ID required, which does not constitute a poll tax. And the Ohio situation is actually fairer than — certainly fairer than the Indiana requirement for a photo ID.

AMY GOODMAN: Charlie Black, a top adviser to John McCain. Last question, the issue of NAFTA, major issue in Ohio. This news, this controversy that is swirling about with the AP obtaining a memo confirming that one of Senator Obama’s senior economic advisers met with the Canadian consulate officials to basically tell them this is overheated campaign rhetoric, what Obama is saying, that they shouldn’t worry about NAFTA being renegotiated — I’m definitely paraphrasing all of that. How is that playing?

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Well, it’s hard to tell at this point. And again, any final outcome is really going to be [inaudible] by the weather in terms of that. The polls have — this was a last-minute kind of issue that came up here. NAFTA is a huge issue in Ohio, and it has been really a bad one for the Clintons, because it was put through under Bill Clinton, and it’s had a devastating impact on the Ohio economy, which is really hurting and doesn’t show much sign of improving at this point in time. So the fact that NAFTA was raised at the end here by the Clinton campaign, I think, is an indicator of how seriously they take the issue and how importantly it will play in the coming general election.

I will say also that this, you know, “Who do you want to call at 3:00 a.m.?” was kind of — I’m not sure how that’s playing among Democrats, but it certainly would play to John McCain’s favor in the general election. And it’s important to understand a lot of the swipes that are being taken between the candidates will have an impact as the campaign goes on, once the nominee for the Democrats is decided.

We also have, as we mentioned, as an important race in Cleveland, Dennis Kucinich, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, the stalwart of the attempt to impeach, the long overdue impeachment of George W. Bush, is being challenged with a — I was in Cleveland and saw some of the ads that have been running against him by his fellow Democrats. They are really brutal. He’s expected to pull through, but that is an extremely important race today that people should keep their eyes on.

AMY GOODMAN: Running again for his own seat as a congressman, though he was a presidential candidate.

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Yes, I think this would be his seventh term. And, you know, Dennis Kucinich saved the municipal light system in Cleveland. He’s a real hero up there, which is really playing out now, because electric rates are so high among the private utilities and the public muni utility customers’ rates are much lower, and it’s a much greener utility. Dennis Kucinich is a real hero in Cleveland, and I don’t think they’re going to beat him, but an attempt has certainly been made, and people need to be aware of that.

AMY GOODMAN: Harvey Wasserman, I want to thank you for being with us, senior editor at the Ohio-based freepress.org, author of —- co-author of Ohio’s Stolen Election: Voices of the Disenfranchised. We turn now -—

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Amy, thanks a lot. It’s a great show, as always.

AMY GOODMAN: Thanks, Harvey.

We turn now very quickly to Vermont to journalist David Goodman, also happens to be my brother, where they are voting today, as they head off all over the state right now to their town meetings. Hi, David.

DAVID GOODMAN: Hi, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: What’s happening in Vermont?

DAVID GOODMAN: Well, today is Town Meeting, which is every — all state business and schools are closed. It’s the annual exercise in direct democracy, where we go — and I will, as soon as I get off the phone, be going to discuss in my community the issues and debate the issues of the day, which also sometimes touch on national and international issues. Last year, Vermont, at Town Meeting, a number of communities debated and passed impeachment resolutions, and this was — really captivated many people in the state.

This year, there is in Brattleboro a resolution to — calling for the indictment of Bush and Cheney, which mirrors resolutions in Kennebunkport, Maine and Portland, Oregon, which is really a symbolic resolution. It would technically authorize the local police to arrest them if they came there. But really it’s meant to boost efforts, more serious efforts, in Europe, in particular, to bring charges, war crimes charges against Bush and Cheney. But it’s just an indication of how Town Meeting really covers a gamut.

As for the current election here, it is a sign of how close this race is with Clinton and Obama, in particular, that Vermont has come into play. The Vermont primary, which is always on Town Meeting Day, there are twenty — some twenty delegates at stake here over — you need roughly 2,000, a little over 2,000 delegates nationwide to win, so with just one percent at stake here. But they’re saying, you know, that the one percent could in fact decide whether it goes to Clinton or Obama. So polls here, statewide polls, show Obama leading by roughly 20 percent. State political leadership has been divided in their support. Senator Leahy and Congressman Peter Welch — Pat Leahy, of course, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee —- have been backing Obama. Leahy, in particular, in the last few days has been speaking very forcefully, tying Clinton to the war and saying that as a result she does not deserve to be president. Others who have lined up behind Clinton include the Speaker of the House Gaye Symington and former Governor Madeleine Kunin. But the -—

AMY GOODMAN: And Senator Sanders, the independent, has not taken a position.

DAVID GOODMAN: Bernie Sanders has said he will not campaign for anyone until after the race is basically decided. He is, as you say, an independent and wants to maintain that status in this race.

AMY GOODMAN: So do you all vote in your town meetings?

DAVID GOODMAN: We do. We go, and throughout the course of the day the polls are open, and so debates are taking place on the floor. It will be in my local elementary school. And in the back of the room, people are voting on everything from their school budgets right up to who they are voting for to nominate to be president.

The news around here is that Hillary Clinton discovered Vermont last week. She had little or no presence here politically. Obama had had a campaign office for quite some time, now has seven offices throughout the state. Clinton did not gear up for Vermont until about two weeks ago. The highest-profile surrogate appearance was by her daughter Chelsea Clinton, who showed up in Burlington last week. So Clinton is playing catch-up here in terms of organizing.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to leave it there. We’ll find out how the state goes tomorrow, as we will, of course, cover what happens after what is known as Super Tuesday II. David Goodman joining us from Waterbury, Vermont.

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