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A Silver-Haired Superdelegate in Copper Country

By Alec MacGillis
BUTTE, Mont. -- Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton rolled into this legendary copper-mining town Saturday for that night's big state Democratic Party dinner, where they were to address some 4,000 Montanans electrified by the state's suddenly relevant June 3 primary.

The dinner is a big, big deal in Butte, which claims the title of birthplace of the American labor movement and which drew so many immigrants from far-flung lands to its mines that it likes to call itself "Butte, America, not Butte, Montana."

Today, the enormous hole in the ground right next to downtown that is the Berkeley Pit -- 1,780 feet deep and a mile and a half wide -- is being filled back up with old mining fill, the city's handsome 19th-century streets are lined with empty storefronts, and until this week the only bold-face name to visit the town in recent years was actor Matthew McConaughey, here for the funeral of local boy Evil Knievel.

Before heading over to the city civic center, Obama stopped by a local bar, the M&M Cafe, to shake some hands. As he was thronged by well-wishers and gawkers, one white-haired man held back a bit. But Obama made sure to make his way over to shake his hand, because John Melcher is a former U.S. senator and, more importantly, a superdelegate. Just a few days ago, Melcher announced that he was throwing his support to Obama, the second Montana superdelegate to do so.

Obama clasped Melcher's hands and thanked him, and even the septuagenarian former senator seemed a bit flustered by the celebrity candidate. "It's all the way, America!" he shouted out as Obama smiled.

A moment later, Melcher said he had decided to support Obama as much for the quality of his campaign as for the candidate himself. "I've never seen a better campaign," he said. "I'm impressed not just by what he's saying but by the way he's running. This is a great campaign."

One small sign of that, he said, was that the campaign knew to make a visit at M&M's. Melcher's daughter Joan Melcher, who was also in attendance, years ago wrote the definitive book on Montana bars, "Watering Hole: A Users Guide to Montana Bars," and both agreed that M&M ranked near the top. "They did well in picking this one," he said.

Melcher, a veterinarian by profession, said Obama reminded him of John F. Kennedy, whose 1960 campaign coincided with Melcher's first run for the state legislature. But he hoped that, unlike Kennedy, Obama would be able to carry Montana in the general election.

"This guy would be great for Montana, great for the West, and great for the country," he said. "I was enthralled with Kennedy, but we couldn't carry this state for him. Maybe we can correct that and get Montana for this guy."

Maintaining a studied neutrality at the party dinner were the state's top Democrats, Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus and Gov. Brian Schweitzer. In a brief interview, though, Schweitzer may have tipped his hand a bit as he praised Obama for his vigorous primary effort in Western states like his own. "Part of the reason he resonates in the West is that he came to Western states. He had a strategy. He knew he was going to have to slug it out to the end," he said, contrasting that with the Clinton campaign's presumption that the contest would end on Super Tuesday.

One top Clinton supporter in attendance, state Sen. Carol Juneau, cautioned that Montana might turn out to be different than its western neighbors when it came time to vote. For one, she noted, it is holding a primary, not a caucus, a format at which Obama has excelled. "I do think she represents the kind of people we have in Montana -- the unemployed, the people who need extra support," she said.

This much was for sure, said Juneau, who sits on the potentially crucial DNC convention credentials committee: Saturday's spotlight on Montana would cast a lasting glow for the state's Democrats. "This is unheard for Montana," she said. "Everyone's on a political high tonight."

By Post Editor  |  April 5, 2008; 9:27 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Hillary Rodham Clinton  
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Next: Obama Steers Clear of 'Warmonger' Talk

Comments

You Montana Democrats are lost. No wonder there are no people living in that vast waste land. I live in Illinois. Barry Obama voted "present", in other words he copped out on 78% of the votes taken in the Illinois Senate while he was there. He cannot take a position. 78% of the time he would not take a position. Exactly what Bill Clinton did with terrorists in his 8 yrs. Copped out!

Posted by: Brad | April 8, 2008 12:44 AM | Report abuse

My family and I attended the Mansfield-Metcalf dinner last night in Butte, Montana and my 16 year old daughter pointed out the energy and enthusiasm shown by the crowd during Senator Obama's speech. Granted, he got the early slot but there was a definite level of excitement that was missing during Senator Clinton's speech. I had the good fortune of being at the M & M before the dinner and got to shake hands with and get an autograph from Senator Obama. Kudos to his staff for pulling that event off. What impressed me the most though was that my 18 year old daughter and two friends had a picture taken with the Senator and after which she decided she needed a solo photo with him. She approached him for the second picture, which I took and botched. She then went and asked for a third chance which he graciously posed for. We were one of many trying to get a photo-op with him yet he took the time to make my daughter's day. He really showed a side which we very seldom see in politicians - that the average joe really does matter.
GO OBAMA '08

Posted by: smartchick1 | April 6, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Yep, Ms. Juneau, The 100 Million Dollar woman sure does "represent the kind of people we have in Montana, the unemployed, the people who need extra support." Oh, this is rich -- so to speak! I am so glad to see Sen. Obama reaching out and connecting to these plains' people. Changing demographics and efforts like these can make these states competetive for the Dems in 2008 if he is our nominee. Keep it up -- no need to get Mrs. Clinton out of the race -- these efforts can help us in November so long as the Clintons put away the long knives.

Posted by: Omyobama | April 6, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

JackSmith1,
You ARE the idiot you've been searching for. Allow me to educate you oh doltish one, Hillary does not equal Bill. Obama is winning and will win this primary. Why would he ever accept Hillary's offer to be her VP? And why would you spend so much time bringing him down and then say, "Well he'd be a damn good VP, one heartbeat from the presidency"?
That's right, because you ARE the idiot you've been searching for. No mights or maybes about it.

Posted by: trmasonic | April 6, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The biggest smear tactic in the contest so far has been the need of Obama supporters to constantly try and characterize Clinton supporters as racist. And of course, it follows from that, Obama supporters are therefore morally and intellectually superior. But isn't it amazing that Obama LOST in New York, California and Massachusetts, probably the most liberal states in the union (one with a Black governor)?

Posted by: dyinglikeflies | April 6, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Jack Smith -
If you REALLY believe all that crap you posted about Hillary, you ARE AN IDIOT. But, if you have no problem supporting a lying hypocrite who at this point is more concerned with ensuring Obama loses in the general election so she can come back in 4 years, more power to you! How can you be proud to support someone that feels the only way she can get ahead is to tear down her oponent? What about her sniper story? What about the way she has been telling crowds about this poor woman that died because she did not have healthcare insurance that the hospital in question has forced her to recant? Are you proud of all that? If you are, good for you - we know what type of person you are, too.

Posted by: rick.means | April 6, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Barak Obama has created the largest group of $$$ donors in history and it is still growing and we are not tapped out. The average donation is just about $100.

1.3 million. Like Johnny Damon said of the 2004 Red Sox, we are just "a bunch of idiots". We are putting our money on the ideas, not the man.

Posted by: shrink2 | April 6, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Why did Rezko bribe Barack Obama?

Posted by: Roy3 | April 6, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

"A house apparently is just one thing Rekzo helped Obama with. It turns out that Edwin J. Gray the head of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board was coerced into calling off an investigation of Rezko by Obama and 4 other US Senators who had received campaign contributions from Rezko.

In addition to campaign contributions, Michelle Obama and her father had invested $359,100 in a Rezko shopping center in April 2006, a year before Obama met with the regulators.

The Obamas sometimes accompanied by their daughters and baby-sitter, had made at least nine trips at Rezko's expense, sometimes aboard his private jet. Three of the trips were made during vacations to Rezko's opulent Bahamas retreat at Cat Cay. Obama also did not pay Rezko for some of the trips.

It seems there is more to this Rezko thing than first appeared. Any politician who would attempt to cheat the system in this way does not deserve to be President."

If there is the slightest true in this statement Obama would have been dismissed from office at once if it had occured in Europe. Bribe is an extremly serious phenomenon.

Posted by: Roy3 | April 6, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

You might be an idiot if you truly believe the 60-year old Clinton really has 35 years of experience. Her "experience" consisted primarily of being married to a politician. Gee ... what was George W. Bush's experience before he became Governor of Texas? Being the son of a politician. Didn't we fight a revolution to get away from aristocratic rule?

And if Bill Richardson, the candidate *I* supported, is a Judas dfor turning his back on the Clintons, what are James Carville (for marrying a Bush political consultant) and Hillary Clinton (for being a Goldwater Girl in '64)?

Posted by: oilhistorian | April 6, 2008 7:18 AM | Report abuse

DON'T BE DUPED !!!

Large numbers of Republicans have been voting for Barack Obama in the DEMOCRATIC primaries, and caucuses from early on. Because they feel he would be a weaker opponent against John McCain. And because they feel that a Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ticket would be unbeatable. And also because with a Clinton and Obama ticket you are almost 100% certain to get quality, affordable universal health care very soon.

But first, all of you have to make certain that Hillary Clinton takes the democratic nomination and then the Whitehouse. NOW! is the time. THIS! is the moment you have all been working, and waiting for. You can do this America. "Carpe diem" (harvest the day).

I think Hillary Clinton see's a beautiful world of plenty for all. She is a woman, and a mother. And it's time America. Do this for your-selves, and your children's future. You will have to work together on this and be aggressive, relentless, and creative. Americans face an even worse catastrophe ahead than the one you are living through now.

You see, the medical and insurance industry mostly support the republicans with the money they ripped off from you. And they don't want you to have quality, affordable universal health care. They want to be able to continue to rip you off, and kill you and your children by continuing to deny you life saving medical care that you have already paid for. So they can continue to make more immoral profits for them-selves.

Hillary Clinton has actually won by much larger margins than the vote totals showed. And lost by much smaller vote margins than the vote totals showed. Her delegate count is actually much higher than it shows. And higher than Obama's. She also leads in the electoral college numbers that you must win to become President in the November national election. HILLARY CLINTON IS ALREADY THE TRUE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE!

As much as 30% of Obama's primary, and caucus votes are Republicans trying to choose the weakest democratic candidate for McCain to run against. These Republicans have been gaming the caucuses where it is easier to vote cheat. This is why Obama has not been able to win the BIG! states primaries. Even with Republican vote cheating help.

Hillary Clinton has been OUT MANNED! OUT GUNNED! and OUT SPENT! 4 and 5 to 1. Yet Obama has only been able to manage a very tenuous, and questionable tie with Hillary Clinton.

If Obama is the democratic nominee for the national election in November he will be slaughtered. Because the Republican vote cheating help will suddenly evaporate. All of this vote fraud and republican manipulation has made Obama falsely look like a much stronger candidate than he really is. YOUNG PEOPLE. DON'T BE DUPED! Think about it. You have the most to lose.

The democratic party needs to fix this outrage. I suggest a Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ticket. Everyone needs to throw all your support to Hillary Clinton NOW! So you can end this outrage against YOU the voter, and against democracy.

I think Barack Obama has a once in a life time chance to make the ultimate historic gesture for unity, and change in America by accepting Hillary Clinton's offer as running mate. Such an act now would for ever seal Barack Obama's place at the top of the list of Americas all time great leaders, and unifiers for all of history.

The democratic party, and the super-delegates have a decision to make. Are the democrats, and the democratic party going to choose the DEMOCRATIC party nominee to fight for the American people. Or are the republicans going to choose the DEMOCRATIC party nominee through vote fraud, and gaming the DEMOCRATIC party primaries, and caucuses.

Fortunately the Clinton's have been able to hold on against this fraudulent outrage with those repeated dramatic comebacks of Hillary Clinton's. Only the Clinton's are that resourceful, and strong. Hillary Clinton is your NOMINEE. They are the best I have ever seen.

"This is not a game" (Hillary Clinton)

Sincerely

jacksmith...

Posted by: JackSmith1 | April 6, 2008 6:43 AM | Report abuse

YOU MIGHT BE AN IDIOT:-)

If you think Barack Obama with little or no experience would be better than Hillary Clinton with 35 years experience.

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that Obama with no experience can fix an economy on the verge of collapse better than Hillary Clinton. Whose ;-) husband (Bill Clinton) led the greatest economic expansion, and prosperity in American history.

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that Obama with no experience fighting for universal health care can get it for you better than Hillary Clinton. Who anticipated this current health care crisis back in 1993, and fought a pitched battle against overwhelming odds to get universal health care for all the American people.

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that Obama with no experience can manage, and get us out of two wars better than Hillary Clinton. Whose ;-) husband (Bill Clinton) went to war only when he was convinced that he absolutely had to. Then completed the mission in record time against a nuclear power. AND DID NOT LOSE THE LIFE OF A SINGLE AMERICAN SOLDIER. NOT ONE!

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that Obama with no experience saving the environment is better than Hillary Clinton. Whose ;-) husband (Bill Clinton) left office with the greatest amount of environmental cleanup, and protections in American history.

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that Obama with little or no education experience is better than Hillary Clinton. Whose ;-) husband (Bill Clinton) made higher education affordable for every American. And created higher job demand and starting salary's than they had ever been before or since.

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that Obama with no experience will be better than Hillary Clinton who spent 8 years at the right hand of President Bill Clinton. Who is already on record as one of the greatest Presidents in American history.

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that you can change the way Washington works with pretty speeches from Obama, rather than with the experience, and political expertise of two master politicians ON YOUR SIDE like Hillary and Bill Clinton..

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think all those Republicans voting for Obama in the Democratic primaries, and caucuses are doing so because they think he is a stronger Democratic candidate than Hillary Clinton. :-)

Best regards

jacksmith...

p.s. You Might Be An Idiot!

If you don't know that the huge amounts of money funding the Obama campaign to defeat Hillary Clinton is coming in from the insurance, and medical industry, that has been ripping you off, and killing you and your children. And denying you, and your loved ones the life saving medical care you needed. All just so they can make more huge immoral profits for them-selves off of your suffering...

Posted by: JackSmith1 | April 6, 2008 6:37 AM | Report abuse

waryofstrangers has got it right. We need a whole body of Obama poetry and liturgy. His followers can shift away from the worship of silly ol' Jesus. Think of how good Obama worship will be for the economy. His acolytes will sell billions of flowers at the airports, our publishing industry will revive with posters of Chairman Obama plastering the walls of our nation, and since Sunday is sometimes not very sunny, we can just re-name the day "Obama", which is way more practical. All babies can be required to have an O in their names. God d@mn America becomes our new national anthem (Star Spangled Banner sucks anyway). Etc etc..

Posted by: dyinglikeflies | April 6, 2008 5:21 AM | Report abuse

Montana is a S*&(&t hole if there ever was one.

GD Montana - why could not Obama and his women hating allies have blocked Montana not Michigan.

BTW - Like a snake I will change my mind about Montana (drove though once) if they give the beat down to Obama. Cultist I know you will do your thing if that happens.

Posted by: mul | April 6, 2008 4:33 AM | Report abuse

@waryofstrangers

I denounce and reject sarcasm. Waryofstrangers I will suggest you discuss the policies of Obama you disagree w/ and not paint him in the stereotype you have presented above. Obama is not worthy of the praise you are trying to attribute to him. He is a guy with a lot of faults and imperfection, but he is willing to do something about the state of the country and that is why some of us are supporting him.

Posted by: kanobi11 | April 6, 2008 3:45 AM | Report abuse

@waryofstrangers

I denounce and reject sarcasm. Waryofstrangers I will suggest you discuss the policies of Obama you disagree w/ and not paint him in the stereotype you have presented above. Obama is not worthy of the praise you are trying to attribute to him. He is a guy with a lot of faults and imperfection, but he is willing to do something about the state of the country and that is why some of us are supporting him.

Posted by: kanobi11 | April 6, 2008 3:45 AM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me? Ms. Juneau may have just earned herself a primary contender with that comment.

"I do think she represents the kind of people we have in Montana -- the unemployed, the people who need extra support," she said.

Is she talking about the same Hillary Clinton who just released her $109 million in income since leaving the White House? Yup, she represents the downtrodden in our society, she really knows what it's like to need a little extra support. The people she really represents are the ones who have been lining her fleeced pockets for years, the special interests and lobbyists.

I expect that kind of buffoonery from some of the people who post on these boards due to blind allegiance, but from a State Senator, Ms. Juneau, shame on YOU and stop perpetuating Hillary's lies.

Posted by: trmasonic | April 6, 2008 3:38 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully Ms. Juneau will come to her senses. How anyone thinks that a presidential candidate, from any party, who hires a union-busting lobbyist/pollster as her campaign manager represents "the kind of people we have in Montana -- the unemployed, the people who need extra support", is way beyond me. It's disgraceful that Colombia's controversial president fired Mark Penn before Sen. Clinton did. We all certainly knew Penn wouldn't have the dignity to quit!

Anyway, Obama isn't looking to give out handouts but a hand up, and unemployed and working and retired Americans are sick of being offered crumbs anyway - get the lobbyists off our backs and we'll make our own way!

Posted by: VCubed | April 6, 2008 3:09 AM | Report abuse

Obama is going to be a leader of change. Change from the old way of doing business in Washington. I know it will be difficult for him at first to pursue his goals (with forces from the right and left on opposing views), but if he does half of what his remarkable campaign has managed to do with strong organization, the right people working for you and getting young people INVOLVED, our country is headed in the right direction.

Clintons are becoming a virtual turnoff at this point.

1. Bosnia lie
2. Half of the 10% charity into their "Family Foundation"
3. Distortation of pregnant woman's story in Ohio
4. Mark Penn's involvement with Colombian officials
5. Constantly playing the victim and gender card
6. "As far as I know" comment
7. Labeling Richardson as a traitor
8. Trying to BUY votes by threatening Pelosi
9. Stirring up Wright issue to deflect her Tuzla LIE
10. Continually playing up that McCain is a better CIC and a patriot than Obama
etc etc......................

Posted by: most06 | April 6, 2008 12:55 AM | Report abuse

HOORAY FOR BUTTE,MONTANA AND MELCHER. I HOPE MONTANA CAN DELIVER OBAMA ALSO, AND THEN WE WILL GET RID OF HILLARY.

HOPE IS WHAT HE IS PREACHING TO ALL, AND WE ALL HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR HOPE FOR A LONG TIME. SO 2 HOPES TOGETHER = WIN, WIN, WIN.


THIS IS WHY OBAMA IS SO LOVED. HE KNOWS HOW TO BE WITH THE LITTLE PEOPLE IN THEIR OWN ENVIRONMENT.

THAT'S TOO SMALL FOR HILLARY. WHEN SHE COMES, SHE'S ONLY FOLLOWING ON OBAMA'S COATTAIL. SHE GOES WHERE HE GOES. SHE FOLLOWS HIM EVERYWHERE.

SHE MAKES ME SICK. A COPY CAT.

Posted by: cajunqueen44 | April 6, 2008 12:39 AM | Report abuse

HOORAY FOR BUTTE,MONTANA AND MELCHER. I HOPE MONTANA CAN DELIVER OBAMA ALSO, AND THEN WE WILL GET RID OF HILLARY.

HOPE IS WHAT HE IS PREACHING TO ALL, AND WE ALL HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR HOPE FOR A LONG TIME. SO 2 HOPES TOGETHER = WIN, WIN, WIN.


THIS IS WHY OBAMA IS SO LOVED. HE KNOWS HOW TO BE WITH THE LITTLE PEOPLE IN THEIR OWN ENVIRONMENT.

THAT'S TOO SMALL FOR HILLARY. WHEN SHE COMES, SHE'S ONLY FOLLOWING ON OBAMA'S COATTAIL. SHE GOES WHERE HE GOES. SHE FOLLOWS HIM EVERYWHERE.

SHE MAKES ME SICK. A COPY CAT.

Posted by: cajunqueen44 | April 6, 2008 12:35 AM | Report abuse

How dear are your thoughts to me, O Obama! how great is the number of them!

If I made up their number, it would be more than the grains of sand; when I am awake, I am still with you.

If only you would put the sinners to death, O Obama; go far from me, you women of blood.

For they go against you with evil designs, and your haters make sport of your name.

Are not your haters hated by me, O Obama? are not those who are lifted up against you a cause of grief to me?

My hate for them is complete; my thoughts of them are as if they were making war on me.

O Obama, let the secrets of my heart be uncovered, and let my wandering thoughts be tested:

See if there is any way of sorrow in me, and be my guide in the eternal way.

Posted by: waryofstrangers | April 6, 2008 12:27 AM | Report abuse

There will always be Hillary supporters.....they just can't get Bill out of their minds. Hillary learned well from her husband... Not how to run the White House, but how to lie with a straight face. It's going to be one hot kitchen if she gets into the White House all right. Her Fight for you Mantra just doesn't work because that's what George Bush is doing now.... fighting against the Demcorats and nothing gets done. I know that Hillary will not do anything for you unless it lines her pockets with cash. She really should stop making arguments against "only words" since her husband did make over 50 million dollars giving speeches. Call me cynical, but you can launder a lot of money by paying someone and put it under the speech column. At this point we don't know exactly what Bill Clinton was paid for. Please Pennsylvania put a stake through this vampire's heart.

Posted by: mrtutto | April 5, 2008 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Do I detect sarcasm?

(suspect that I do)

I guess, it's only natural for the cynics, the small-minded , those filled with hate, those motivated by petty ambitions.......

..... when they find someone who strives for something better; such as Barack Obama

to try and bring that person down to their own low level.

Posted by: kevinlarmee | April 5, 2008 11:12 PM | Report abuse

O praise Obama, all ye nations: praise Him, all ye people. For His merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of Obama endureth for ever. Praise ye Obama.

Posted by: waryofstrangers | April 5, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Melcher on this one. And he'll be good for the whole planet, for our relationships, for our national identity, for our dignity, for our gradual restoration of the exemplar and helper we can be to less fortunate peoples.

Posted by: GaiasChild | April 5, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA, HE'S THE BEST !

.......is he jesus, no.

but of all the cadidates, he's the best!

With Obama as president, the United States will (rightfully) be seen in a different light, around the world.

He is the tonic, to the toxic effect of 8 years of Bush and the neocons.

Now, (rightfully) the United States is seen as a country that uses mercenaries, torture & secret prisons.

The U.S. is now (rightfully) seen as a country that invades other countries.

The U.S. is now (rightfully) seen as a country that starts wars and endangers world peace.

Time to take America back! Torture, secret prisons, war-monger; that's not the American dream...not the American ideals.

Obama will restore America to it's core values, of hope, freedom, and peace.

This country (and the world!) will be blessed to have OBAMA as prsident.

OBAMA '08 !

Posted by: kevinlarmee | April 5, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

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