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Final Four – Area Democrats still hopeful for Obama

By Staff | Feb 8, 2008

The changing complexion of the Democratic and Republican primaries has not changed the position of Barack Obama’s chief supporter in Emmet County.

Doug Hansen, who was selected to introduce Obama shortly before the Jan. 3 Iowa primaries, does not seem to be swayed to Hillary Clinton’s Super Tuesday sweep of major states such as New York and California. Hansen said he is even less daunted by what appears to be a shift to a more centrist Republican position with John McCain’s Super Tuesday victories that caused McCain primary rival Mitt Romney to throw in the towel on Thursday.

“I think this is just going to be a Democratic year,” Hansen said. “I think the Republicans have just had their way the last eight years. And now look at where we’re at.”

Hansen hinted that mixing religion with politics has not helped the Republican party in the long run.

“Religion has affected politics in an adverse way and I think we need to get away from that,” Hansen said. “There’s a reason the church and state were separated way back in the 1700s.”

Hansen said the reason church and state were separated by American forefathers was due to abuses by the English crown in the name of religion.

“We forget that, that it’s probably a good idea to not have so much religion in our politics,” Hansen said.

Hansen drew a parallel between the 1992 election when President Bill Clinton was elected to his first term and the current election. In both cases, the country was ready for something different, he said.

“I think that’s the way things are headed,” Hansen said. “I just think the Republican candidate for president, whoever it is, is going to lose. I think the Democratic candidate, whoever it is, is going to win.”

Hansen remains a steadfast Obama supporter as well.

“I think he has a better chance winning in the general election than Hillary.”

A chief reason Hansen supports Obama is that he took an early stand against the Iraq war. “That’s the main reason I support him,” Hansen said.

Should McCain roll through the rest of the primaries and get his party’s nod, Hansen said age could be a definite factor. At 72, McCain would be two years older than Ronald Reagan when he took office, the oldest of any president.

With Obama raising $7.2 million in less than 48 hours after Super Tuesday compared to $4 for Clinton, Obama says he has the broad-based support to win the nomination.

Emmet County Democratic Chair John Nelson agreed that Clinton’s funding appears to be drying up.

“You’ve got Obama going hard and fast,” Nelson said. “And he’s getting it (money) all over.”

Nelson noted that Obama did exceedingly well in the caucus states such as Iowa which he won handily. “I think he’s learned how to do it in the caucus states,” he said.

Nelson said Obama still has a good shot at the nomination. “It’s a long time between now and November,” he said.

As for the Republican side, Nelson said Mitt Romney’s decision to drop out Thursday after McCain’s Super Tuesday performance will not greatly change the Democrats’ strategy to win the White House. “I don’t see that as being too big of a factor,” Nelson said. “The Republicans are still pretty much in disarray.”

“He (McCain) supported everything the president wanted,” Nelson said, noting that McCain had reversed his position on waterboarding to agree with President Bush.

Nelson said this election could very well have awakened a sleeping giant — those Democratic voters who until now have now shown a great interest in politics.

“It is a huge number of compared to the amount we have coming out to vote for the Republicans,” Nelson said. He said both new voters and voters inspired by new candidates — such as Obama — comprise many of those coming out to caucus Jan. 3.

Nelson said Obama seems to have gathered most of the support of young people while Clinton has garnered the support of women.

“The Democrats have kept their power dry,” Nelson said of targeting any of the Republicans. “They haven’t had anything to shoot at.”