Democratic Caucuses In Maine

Mar 28, 2008 | Updated May 25, 2011

Mark Halperin reports that with 11% of the precincts reporting, Obama has a slight lead over Clinton, 50% to 48%.

An early report from Maine has caucus-goers turning out in very large numbers:

Democrats and independents have arrived in droves to caucus at Cape Elizabeth High School this afternoon, delaying the start of the proceedings by more than an hour.

The event is one of hundreds of its type today, as Democrats in Maine head to local caucuses a day after Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. swept contests in Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington - closing in on front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. in the battle for the Democratic presidential nod.

Hundreds of people waited in the school's cafeteria for the proceedings to begin. Some were forced to wait at least an hour to get into the building. The caucus had been scheduled to begin at 12:30, but proceedings were getting under way at 1:40 p.m.

With the Republican nomination all but fully secured by John McCain, Clinton and Obama have turned their eyes and their attacks towards him, with each seeking to make the argument that they re more qualified and more likely to beat McCain in a general election.

Democrats trudged to caucuses amidst snow and bitter winds. Maine deals with high levels of snow all the time, but it remained to be seen whether or not it would affect turnout.

Obama has the momentum going into the Maine caucuses (Via NY Times):

After his decisive victories in Washington, Louisiana and Nebraska on Saturday, Senator Barack Obama is facing off against Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday afternoon in caucuses in Maine.

Mr. Obama's wins, combined with his building advantage in fund-raising, gave him momentum going into Maine, as well as the coming contests on Tuesday in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Still, the race for Democratic delegates remains too close to call, and Maine may favor Mrs. Clinton, although there have been no polls. A win for her there could help blunt the edge of what are expected to be a string of victories for Mr. Obama in the 10 contests between last Tuesday and March 4.

Obama heavily criticized John McCain and the Iraq War at a Maine rally, telling supporters that McCain would fight on in Iraq for another hundred years. Obama also argued that he was better positioned to end the war than his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton:

Democrat Barack Obama said he is better positioned to change Washington and to end the Iraq war if elected president in an unusually spirited critique of rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain on Saturday.

Before 7,000 people in Bangor, Me., Obama said McCain -- the likely Republican nominee -- "wants to fight a 100-year war" in Iraq. It was a reference to the Arizona senator's remarks that some U.S. troops may be in Iraq a century from now.

He also criticized McCain for initially voting against President Bush's major tax cuts and later embracing them. And he mocked McCain's attacks on pork barrel spending, saying, "it was his party" under the Bush administration "that passed the biggest increase in pork barrel spending" in history.

The Washington Post reports that women could give Clinton an edge in today's Democratic caucuses in Maine:

It is women like Linda Sinclair who have turned New England into a potentially tough playing field for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.).

Sinclair listened with rapt attention as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) spoke at a rally in Orono on Saturday morning, on the eve of Sunday's Maine caucuses. She committed to Clinton three months ago, and while she planned to attend an afternoon Obama event in nearby Bangor, she did not expect to change her mind.

"She's really in touch with the common person, even though she's not one," Sinclair, 58, said of Clinton. "I think they're both very bright. But she's more solid. I think he's fluffy."

Democrats gather across Maine for today's caucuses. There was a light snowstorm overnight, but there is still the potential for snow squalls and strong gusts of wind, with the possibility of scattered power outages:

An overnight snowstorm proved to be only a nuisance, but there's still a possibility of snow squalls as Democrats gather for caucuses across Maine.

Meteorologist Art Lester from the National Weather Service says the storm that began Saturday evening left 2 to 5 inches of snow across Maine. The biggest snow tally was 5.4 inches in Hiram; Portland got 2.1 inches before the snow turned to rain.

Lester says snow squalls are expected Sunday afternoon with the possibility of another 1 to 3 inches of snow accumulation. He says there will also be strong wind gusts topping out at up to 50 mph, raising the possibility of scattered power outages.