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The Last Best Primary Party

By Karl Vick
MISSOULA, Mont. -- The check mark appeared beside his name on television a few minutes before polls in Montana had closed, but Obama supporters here cheered liked they owned it Tuesday night.

Leaping off the cracked red leather seats of the historic Wilma theater, the crowd of several hundred at a planned victory party drowned out whatever came after Obama said, "I want to thank Montana..."

The white, liberal college town faithful hung on every word audible from the Xcel center in St. Paul. The video feed that filled the proscenium created the sense of a virtual convention of sorts, with the throaty roars from Minnesota echoed in western Montana. The crowd here had sustained applause for Hillary Clinton, and cheers, again, when Obama declared "This is our moment."

But aside from his declaration of victory and thanking their state, the most spontaneous cries rose upon his statement, often heard over the months, "We have got to be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless going in."

Five minutes after the candidate finished, the ornate theater was two thirds empty. A sea of empty seats faced alocal poet who recited Emily Dicikinson: "Hope, that thing with feathers."

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 3, 2008; 11:24 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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Next: Exit Polls: In Obama Montana Win, Echoes of Iowa

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