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Pennsylvanians Get Set for 'Iowa on Steroids'

By Krissah Williams
PHILADELPHIA -- Pennsylvania State Democratic Party Chairman T.J. Rooney sipped a cocktail in the Vesper Club off Walnut Street, ready for the political tsunami about to overtake his state.

"I don't think most people know what we're in for," Rooney said, smiling. "And I mean that as a good thing."

His Blackberry buzzed, probably another reporter. It was not yet 5 p.m. and the longtime local politician was on about his 30th interview of the day, as the full attention of the national press corps turns to Pennsylvania, which will now play an outsize role in deciding the Democratic primary.

"It's Iowa on steroids," he said told the Trail, repeating the phrase for the umpteenth time.

Rooney is personally backing Sen. Hillary Clinton, though the state party is staying out of the fray. She's also lined up the majority of the congressional delegation, Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter and -- most importantly popular -- Gov. Ed Rendell and his political machine.

The early battle lines are being drawn in the Democrat's ongoing civil war and Rooney pitched his candidate.
"Pennsylvanians tend to be kind of a hard scrabble bunch," he said. "They don't tend to be swept up in emotion....They are like 'I want to listen to your flowery words, but what the hell are you going to do for me?' That's not to suggest that Sen. Obama won't do very well here and attract large crowds....[but] Sen. Clinton has been met with broad based support."

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 5, 2008; 6:03 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Hillary Rodham Clinton , Primaries , The Democrats  
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