There were the makings of a celebration as the What Cheer? Brigade unleashed its joyous cacophony amid hundreds of Barack Obama supporters at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on Tuesday night. Yet the results being described via MSNBC on the large screen on the nightclub’s stage — with Rhode Island being called for Hillary Clinton not long after polls closed at 9 pm — told another story.
It was predictable that Clinton’s string of victories here, in Ohio, and in the Texas primary would be swiftly recast into the memo — subject: “The Path to the Presidency” — by Clinton advisers Harold Ickes and Mark Penn that landed in the e-mail inboxes of reporters Wednesday morning.
To some of the Obama supporters at Lupo’s, the extension of the Democratic contest makes for more drama, a chance for the country to debate liberal politics.
Yet it’s hard not to think that the big beneficiary of Tuesday night is John McCain, the Republican nominee-in-waiting, since Obama and Clinton have dropped many millions of dollars raising each other’s negatives in such key states as Ohio — and now that process will continue, for how long no one knows.
Some Obama supporters preferred to focus on the positive, noting their candidate’s continued advantage in the delegate count. “She’s still in the hole,” said Providence Councilman Cliff Wood.
Marti Rosenberg, who stressed that she was speaking as an individual, and not in her official capacity as development director of US Action, spoke of the pride inspired by Obama among his supporters. “His roots are as a community organizer,” she points out. “We figure out how to do the impossible. The voters get it. I think he’ll make it through.”
Organizer and Roger Williams Law School student Kim Ahern, who proved the top vote-getting delegate in the First Congressional District, said, “Like any competitor, I would have liked [for Obama] to have won Rhode Island.” Ahern took solace in how the Illinois senator gave Clinton a local run for her money.
 Yet after Obama’s campaign ran an energetic ground effort in the Ocean State — and outspent Clinton on advertising by better than three-to-one — it was frustrating to realize that the state’s demographics (heavy on older, predominantly working class and Catholic voters) still played directly into Hillary’s strengths. Even with a historic turnout, she scored a decisive victory in Rhode Island.
Suddenly, the Ocean State’s unprecedented role in presidential politics — a taste of the New Hampshire primary moved a few states south, with a front-page story last weekend in the New York Times — was over.
In an e-mail to his supporters, Obama wrote, “When the dust settles from [Tuesday’s] contests, we will maintain our substantial lead in delegates. And thanks to millions of people standing for change, we will keep adding delegates and capture the Democratic nomination.”
Like their candidate, the Obama supporters at Lupo’s were yielding no quarter.
Yet with the first bleak projections of the exit polls on Tuesday night, they had to confront the unwelcome reality of a more complex and ultimately less predictable presidential landscape.
Related: Clinton vs. Obama, Will bigotry doom Obama, Beyond the spin, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Barack Obama, Elections and Voting, Politics,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
    Five years ago, when Farm Fresh Rhode Island (FFRI) launched its mission of promoting Ocean State-produced food, co-founder Noah Fulmer discovered a curious disconnection in the local food chain.
  •   TICKET TO RIDE  |  February 11, 2009
    In April 1999, two weeks after I started on the job at the Providence Phoenix , the FBI raided City Hall, formally unveiling the federal investigation that would land Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci Jr., Rhode Island's rascal king, behind bars.
    During a news conference Tuesday afternoon in the State House rotunda, proponents of significantly expanding publicly financed elections in Rhode Island — a concept they call "Fair Elections" — cited a litany of reasons for why it would be good for the Ocean State and its citizens.
  •   THE UPSIDE OF HOPE IN RHODE ISLAND  |  January 29, 2009
    Everywhere one turns these days, there's seemingly more bad news about Rhode Island: the unemployment rate, one of the highest in the nation, tops 10 percent — and the state's running out of unemployment assistance.
    Former Providence Journal reporter Jan Brogan is out with her fourth mystery, Teaser .

 See all articles by: IAN DONNIS