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Clinton takes R.I., Huckabee drops out of race

Obama supporters at Brown 'not going anywhere'

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Rhode Island’s presidential primary brought good news to members of Students for Hillary and the Brown College Republicans, who can now throw their support behind Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

With all precincts reporting, Sen. Hillary Clinton, beat Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic primary, 58 percent to 40 percent. On the Republican side, another decisive win for Sen. John McCain was accompanied by the concession of his major remaining rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

“We are so, so thrilled to win Rhode Island,” said Craig Auster ’08, one of the leaders of Brown’s Students for Hillary group, which campaigned heavily for the New York senator in the Ocean State.

Members of the group spent hours going door-to-door to canvass, working at phone banks and volunteering at campaign headquarters in Providence, Auster said.

“Brown students were really involved, and I’m really proud of what we have done,” Auster said. “It looks like Hillary can maybe pull it off.”

The entire Rhode Island campaign – including a number of Brown students – gathered at McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon in downtown Providence to watch the returns.

Now that regional opportunities will be scarce, the group will make phone calls and perhaps plan some weekend trips, focusing efforts on Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary, Auster said.

Members of Students for Barack Obama also spent the day going door-to-door and making phone calls urging supporters to vote for the Illinois senator, said Max Chaiken ’09, Brown’s chapter coordinator for the group.

“It was a long day, and it has been a long couple of weeks,” said Chaiken, who is also a Herald opinions columnist. “We don’t know what will happen in the national picture, but we are not going anywhere and will keep working hard.”

The Obama campaign was somewhat successful in Rhode Island, Chaiken said, noting that the candidate won in the city of Providence, 51.3 percent to 47.8 percent. But Obama was less successful in the state as a whole.

“The only reason tonight has an effect on our plans is because there is less opportunity to be directly involved,” Chaiken said. “We have little to do from Rhode Island except making phone calls.”

Clinton also won Ohio by 12 percentage points with 88 percent of precincts reporting, and she took Texas by 4 percentage points with 77 percent of precincts reporting, according to CNN. Obama won Vermont by 22 percentage points with 86 percent of precincts reporting, and with only early results in, Obama was leading Clinton in the Texas caucuses, CNN reported.

The Brown College Republicans – who are governed by a national committee – are not permitted to endorse a candidate during the primaries. But now that Huckabee has conceded, they will be free to actively support John McCain, an Arizona senator, said group President Marc Frank ’09.

The group is “very excited” and “pleased that John McCain is now our official nominee,” Frank said. After former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney dropped out of the race, “the club has been 100 percent for McCain,” without a single member supporting Huckabee, he added.

Frank said the group has been largely inactive up until this point because of the restriction on supporting an individual candidate. McCain’s win was a “forgone conclusion,” Frank said – which meant Republicans at Brown didn’t have to be very active during the primary season.

Later this semester, the members will begin canvassing for McCain. But for now, Frank said, they are “enjoying watching the Democrats beat each other up.”

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