Kids played while adults caucused Saturday at the Laramie Civic Center.
Photo: Kdriese

Sen. Barack Obama won the Wyoming caucuses Saturday, as thousands of Democrats filled high school gyms and auditoriums across the state. Obama took 61 percent of the delegates in the contest. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York won 38 percent.

Obama picked up 7 delegates to the national Democratic convention. Clinton gained 4 delegates.

Both candidates campaigned in Wyoming over the past week. But Obama has excelled in caucuses as his “fired up and ready to go” supporters turn out for the community meetings where votes are cast and counted.

It took a little will-power to participate in the Wyoming caucuses. The Casper Tribune described long lines and venues so crowded some people had to wait outside in the cool of early March.

In Sweetwater County, 500 people filled a high school auditorium and another 500 waited in line to get in. “I’m worried about where we’re going to put them all. But I guess everybody’s got the same problem,” said Joyce Corcoran, a local party official. “So far we’re OK. But man, they keep coming.”

It was that way around the state.

Obama in wyoming
Sen. Barack Obama filled University of Wyoming basketball arena on March 7.
Photo: Kdriese

Both Clinton and Obama campaigned in Wyoming, confronting issues of energy and guns, two topics that are of concern to those in the coal-rich state. Both candidates last week pledged their allegiance to “clean coal” technology.

Clinton said she was committed to providing federal funding for new coal-burning technology that would reduce greenhouse gases. And, she told the Casper paper , “One (project) should be in Wyoming….If we do the clean coal work, Wyoming is going to win. If we are able to continue to produce oil and gas, especially if we can get fields that are depleted to start producing again, Wyoming will win.”
wyomingOn a bitterly cold day before the March 8 caucuses, people wait in line to see Bill Clinton.
Photo: Kdriese

Obama, too, touted clean coal technology. “I come from a coal state. Southern Illinois, which has fallen on some difficult times, is a coal region and so I want to make sure that we’re investing in ways to sequester the carbon that is emitted from coal power plants and I think that a lot of those jobs and a lot of that work should go into those states that are most familiar with these energy resources,” Obama said in an interview with the Casper paper. “If we do that, then not only do I think that we can create good jobs here in Wyoming, but I also think we could end up creating economic opportunities for export to countries like China that are gonna need ways of dealing with the side effects of carbon as well.”

Obama also skirted Second Amendment questions in Wyoming. He didn’t take a position on a recent decision by the National Parks Service to review its policy on whether people should be allowed to carry loaded guns in the national parks. Reporter Megan Lee then asked the Illinois senator, “So should Wyomingites be nervous that you would want to take away their guns in any way?”

This is a tough question in many states. On Friday, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed into law a bill that prohibits government officials from confiscating guns from citizens who have obeyed the law. Here is Obama’s full answer:

“No. I think that if you are a legal, responsible gun owner, you have nothing to fear. I do want to strengthen our background checks. Just recently, we had students at the Northern Illinois University gunned down. There are consistent tragedies that are occurring because people with histories of mental health problems are somehow still evading background checks. We’re still seeing criminals being able to obtain a lot of weaponry on the streets of many urban communities around the country, and I think we’ve got to do a better job of tracing where these guns are coming from, why they’re falling into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, and crack down on that. But if you’re the average gun owner in Wyoming who doesn’t have a criminal record and is acting responsibly, then you’re going to be able to maintain your Second Amendment rights.”

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