Barack Obama scored a decisive win over Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday (by a margin of more than two-to-one in Dane County). As the returns poured in, Obama gave another uplifting speech in Houston. It was much like the speech that rocked a packed Kohl Center last week - an appeal straight to the heart.
Michelle Obama made a similar pitch at the Overture Center on Monday. She talked about her husband's community organizing work in Chicago, seeing poverty up close, his single mother and his experience living in the Third World. She mentioned his grandmother, who lives in a little village in Kenya. And she asked audience members to close their eyes and imagine what his win would do for kids in America and our image around the world.
Hillary's nuts-and-bolts speech at Monona Terrace Monday night wasn't half bad. As local backers Tammy Baldwin and Barbara Lawton said, she has the best plans to help working families. She even took a page from John Edwards and spoke movingly of a Racine woman facing home foreclosure. But it was too late. Hillary could have done better here, but the Clintons couldn't make up their minds whether they were really trying for Wisconsin.
Bill didn't help with his rambling speech at the manure-scented Stock Pavilion last week, a sharp contrast to Obama's star turn on campus. He came across as petulant, scolding students for being enthusiastic about Obama, for wanting something "exciting and new."
Worst for Hillary, women were about evenly split between the two candidates. And working-class voters in Racine and Wausau - Hillary's supposed base - went big for Obama. Wisconsin's vote leaves Hillary with a steep hill to climb.
Speaking on Tuesday in Youngstown, Ohio, Clinton didn't acknowledge her loss in Wisconsin or thank those who supported her here. Instead, she appealed to union troops, threatening, if elected, to punish employers who send American jobs overseas, making it sound like her husband's administration never gave us NAFTA in the first place.
Meanwhile, GOP victor John McCain, looking like grumpy old Gramps, opined that "Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change." He said Obama's talk about a better future "promises no more than a holiday from history."
Take that, you overexcited kids! Now go inside and practice your duck-and-cover drills.
It was McCain who drove home why Democrats would choose Obama to be their nominee.
Ruth Conniff in the political editor of The Progressive.