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Pryor: Obama could have won state

Barack Obama could have won Arkansas if he had campaigned here, according to U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

“I think if Obama had come here and worked here and allocated some resources to Arkansas, we could have been like North Carolina or Missouri or some of these other states who were very close, and we could have won the thing. … They made the right decision nationally, but I do wish the Obama campaign had spent some more time here,” Pryor told reporters.

As of today, provisional ballots are still being counted in Missouri and no winner has been declared.

Pryor, who campaigned in the state on Obama’s behalf, said Arkansas’ election results — 58.6 percent for McCain, 39 percent for Obama — also may have been affected by former first lady Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the national Democratic primary and “probably some other factors.”

Obama’s most recent appearance in Arkansas was in October 2006 at a rally for Mike Beebe and other Democratic candidates.


Democratic rallies set

Bill Clinton’s sweep through his native Arkansas tomorrow and Saturday on behalf Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama and the rest of the party’s election ticket is set.

The former president, along with Gov. Mike Beebe and former Arkansas Govs. and U.S. Sens. Dale Bumpers and David Pryor, will headline a get-out-the-vote rally at 5 p.m. Friday at the corner of Fourth and Main streets in North Little Rock.

The quartet will follow Saturday with an 11:30 a.m. rally in downtown Pine Bluff and a 1 p.m. appearance in Jonesboro. They’ll be joined at various stops by Democratic Senators Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, along with Democratic Congressmen Marion Berry, Vic Snyder and Mike Ross.

Obama has not visited Arkansas since an October 2006 appearance in support of Beebe and other state Democrats. Republican John McCain has visited the state twice since becoming the GOP presidential nominee. Former Arkansas and U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton headlined a rally for Obama in Little Rock two weeks ago.


Coming for Obama

Former President Bill Clinton will join Gov. Mike Beebe, state Democratic Party Chairman David Pryor and former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers at a series of rallies for Barack Obama this week, the Democratic Party of Arkansas announced today.

The get-out-the-vote rallies will be in North Little Rock on Friday and in Pine Bluff and Jonesboro on Saturday. The times and exact locations of the events have not been determined.

Former Arkansas and U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton headlined a rally for Obama in Little Rock on Oct. 10 and drew a crowd of about 3,000 people.


Painting Arkansas blue UPDATE

Hillary Clinton was warmly received at a rally in Little Rock today for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Standing at a lecturn that read “Paint Arkansas blue” and in front of a banner that read, “Welcome home, Hillary!” Clinton told a cheering audience of about 3,000 people she was appreciative “beyond words” for the 70-percent vote she received in Arkansas’ Feb. 5 Democratic primary. She asked Arkansans to give the same level of support to Obama.

Clinton named off a list of issues — the economic crisis, the energy crisis, education, health care, the war in Iraq — repeating after each item, “There is only one answer, and it’s Barack Obama.”

Others who spoke included actors Mary Steenburgen, an Arkansas native, and her husband Ted Danson; U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln; U.S. Reps. Marion Berry, D-Gillett, and Vic Snyder, D-Little Rock; Gov. Mike Beebe; state Democratic Party Chairman David Pryor; retired general and 2004 presidential candidate Wesley Clark; and state Sen. Tracy Steele, D-North Little Rock.

Lincoln had strong words for Republican nominee John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin, who have stepped up attacks on Obama in recent days.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the despicable, unhinged tone of the McCain-Palin campaign during the last few days should make us even more determined … We should stand up and call it what it is: It’s divisive, it’s irresponsible, it’s disgusting, it’s demeaning and it’s unpatriotic, because that’s not the country that we are,” Lincoln said.

Clinton was scheduled to attend a fundraiser for Obama after the rally at the Little Rock home of Kaki Hockersmith and Max Mehlberger.


Hillary Clinton to campaign for Obama in Little Rock

It’s now official: Former Arkansas first lady Hillary Clinton will campaign for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama in Little Rock on Oct. 10. The announcement came today from state Democratic Party Chairman David Pryor.
“We’re very, very pleased that she’s coming. She’s going to stir up a lot of interest here in the campaign,” Pryor said.
State party spokeswoman Darinda Sharp says Gov. Mike Beebe, Pryor and other elected officials and Democratic leaders are expected to join Clinton for a get-out-the vote rally. The time and location haven’t been determined, but she says the rally likely will be about 5 p.m. at the Capitol.


Beebe stands by his man

State Rep. Steve Breedlove, D-Greenwood, should be happy to know that his re-election campaign ranks high on Gov. Mike Beebe’s list of priorities.
Beebe said today he recently refused to cancel plans to appear at an upcoming campaign event for Breedlove in favor of an event that had been scheduled for the same day with former Arkansas first lady Hillary Clinton in support of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
“They had it scheduled at a time that I’d already committed to a Democratic state representative to be at a fundraiser for him in the western part of the state, actually Breedlove,” Beebe said. “I said I can’t back out on that, so they moved it to a later evening event where I can be there.”
Asked for specifics about the event for Obama, Beebe referred questions to state Democratic Party Chairman David Pryor. Party spokeswoman Darinda Sharp said later that a visit by Clinton has not been confirmed.
“We don’t know who is and isn’t coming yet,” she said.
Former President Bill Clinton said last week he planned to campaign in Arkansas for Obama. An Obama campaign worker said Monday that no Arkansas appearances by either Bill or Hillary Clinton are on the campaign’s calendar at the moment.
Breedlove will face Republican challenger John Van Gorder of Greenwood in the Nov. 4 election.


Arkansas roll call

Arkansas delegates to the Democratic National Convention cast 37 votes for Barack Obama during Democrats’ official roll call to nominate their presidential choice this afternoon.

Eight votes went to Hillary Clinton, who earlier Wednesday released her pledged delegates to vote for Obama if they so chose.

Rebecca Gwatney, who announced the state Democrats’ votes inside the convention hall, said they heeded Hillary Clinton’s call for unity within the party.

Clinton won the state’s Democratic primary overwhelmingly on Feb. 5. Before Wednesday, her pledged delegates from Arkansas outnumbered Obama’s nearly 4-to-1.

Initially, the secretary of the convention incorrectly announced the state’s tally as unanimous for Obama.

State Rep. Steve Harrelson, D-Texarkana, who is seated with the state’s delegation, said Gwatney’s microphone was mistakenly cut off before she read the vote totals.

Here is her statement in its entirety, courtesy of the Democratic Party of Arkansas:

On behalf of the great state of Arkansas, the adopted home of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the state that provided her with her largest margin of 70 percent in the 2008 Democratic primary, and a state with an admiration for Bill and Hillary Clinton that is unmatched throughout this country, I am proud tonight to follow Sen. Clinton’s call for unity, and to unite behind Sen. Barack Obama and elect him the next president of the United States.

Arkansas casts 37 votes for Barack Obama and eight for Sen. Clinton.

Together we will take back the White House.


Arkansans eager to hear native son

Arkansas delegates expect a frenzied crowd to welcome former President Bill Clinton tonight when he speaks at the Democratic National Convention.

Clinton, governor of Arkansas for more than a decade, will take the stage at 8 p.m. Central. Like his wife on Tuesday, Clinton is likely to endorse Barack Obama and call for Hillary Clinton supporters to rally around the presumptive Democratic nominee for the general election.

Delegates last night got a preview of what to expect when the former president enters the Pepsi Center tonight.

Fayetteville’s David Whitaker said almost every convention-goer turned to watch Bill Clinton when he arrived last night for his wife’s speech.

“I felt sorry for the speaker at the rostrum because when President Clinton entered, I swear, the poor speaker lost our attention for five minutes as people looked and craned their necks and waved,” Whitaker said.

“I fully expect when the president enters the room that place is going to come apart,” he added.

Remarks made by the former president in the past have added to speculation that he is not completely behind Obama’s presidential bid.

Arkansans said such speculation is nonsense generated by the opposition party.

“The talk about tension is Republican garbage,” said Don Bishop of Harrison. “That is not going on and it is not relevant at this convention. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton support Barack Obama, period.”


Hillary fans headed home

Like scores of Hillary Clinton supporters across the country, a handful of Arkansans hit the road back to the Natural State this morning after hearing Clinton’s convention speech Tuesday night. It seems the most famous Arkansas native won’t stick around for Barack Obama’s address, either.

CNN reported that former President Bill Clinton will not be at Invesco Field on Thursday when Barack Obama formally accepts the Democrats’ presidential nomination in front of a crowd expected at 75,000 people. Hillary Clinton is expected to attend.

Delegates from Arkansas didn’t have specifics on how many Arkansas residents were in Denver just for Hillary Clinton’s speech. They made clear that no one in the state’s official delegation to the Democratic National Convention is skipping town.

“Of course, a lot of supporters wanted to hear Hillary. A lot of people flew here to hear her and then they left,” said Diana Gonzales Worthen, a delegate from Springdale.

All delegates and alternates were accounted for at a breakfast meeting this morning, said Don Bishop of Harrison.

“The Arkansas delegation will stay here until the end. We will support Barack Obama for president,” Thurman Metcalf said.

Metcalf, of Rogers, is a pledged delegate for Clinton.


Dem leader mum on roll call

The Arkansan serving as chair of the state’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention was decidely vague about how the state will handle today’s presidential nomination vote.

There are questions as to whether delegates pledged to Hillary Clinton will remain loyal to her for the vote, expected to start after 4 p.m. Central. Clinton has released her delegates from their commitment so that they can vote for presumptive nominee Barack Obama.

How that shakes out with the Arkansas delegation remains to be seen

Karla Bradley of Fayetteville wouldn’t give Natural State reporters any sort of
indication how the vote would go for Arkansas’ 47 delegates. Only eight are pledged to Obama.

“We’re following the procedures to the utmost and we have informed our delegates of the procedures,” said Bradley, the first vice-chair of the state party. “What I do want to say is we are unified and we will be unified in our effort to elect Barack Obama.”

If Clinton supporters stay behind her, a narrow nomination victory for Obama could indicate lingering resentment in the party over a bitter primary campaign. A sweeping Obama win would show the unity Democrats so much want to demonstrate in Denver.

On the other hand, Clinton votes today could simply mean delegates want to recognize her for her 18 million votes. In Arkansas specifically, Clinton won 70 percent of the Democratic primary vote.

“We’re not in any way, form or fashion in the vote anti-Obama,” said Jason Willett, a delegate from Jonesboro.

Willett is Clinton’s “whip” for Arkansas, which means he will be responsible for encouraging Clinton delegates to stick with their commitment.