SAN ANTONIO—With a backdrop of a painting of the Alamo, Sen. Barack Obama is in a poor area of this city right now—Tuesday afternoon-- talking at a roundtable here about home foreclosures and the mortgage crisis. He blamed the mess on special interest lobbying, because the lenders have Washington lobbying operations. Meanwhile even though Wisconsin and Hawaii are voting today, the Clinton and Obama campaigns are looking ahead to the March 4 mega-battles in Texas and Ohio.
Texas presents some very specific challenges for both Democrats. The state has a combination system with a primary and a caucus held on the same day. After voters cast a ballot in any of the 8,300 precincts—or did early voting—they then can show up in person that night to vote for a another pool of delegates. There is an expected high early voting rate here. Early voting started today and runs through Feb. 29.
Clinton’s Texas campaign director, Ace Smith, said in a conference call that Clinton has an edge because she and the former president have long roots in Texas. “It’s not a matter of showing up right before an election,” Smith said. “It’s a matter of a long relationship that really counts, that counts for a lot in Texas.”
“We will have a ground operation that hasn’t been seen in this state in some time. …We are going to run a campaign here . We concede absolutely nothing.”
Clinton was helped in California by early voting and Smith said the Texas strategy calls for “pushing the early vote.” Clinton has 20 offices here and is also going after the youth vote.
“No question that the Obama forces are down here,” Smith said. “As a matter of fact, they have a greater presence that I have seen in California.”