Slinging Cheese Curds

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When did Wisconsin get so nasty? In week dominated by tit-for-tat conference calls, mailers and tv spots filled with accusations and counter-punches the Obama campaign said today they expect this is just a preview for the Ohio and Texas contests on March 4.

“I would imagine that what your seeing in Wisconsin is just a precursor to Ohio and Texas,” said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. “We fully expect them to run a very negative campaign in Ohio and Texas.”

(Case in point: I missed a simultaneous Clinton call this ayem that accused Obama of plagiarizing his rhetoric from Massachusetts Governor (and fellow Axelrod client) Deval Patrick, which the Obama folks countered with examples of Hillary copying Obama’s signature “Fired Up! and Ready to Go!”)

Clinton, at first, didn’t seem inclined to invest in Wisconsin, buying advertising there a full week after Obama had been up on the air. But last week the Clinton camp switched gears and bought three tv ads – one criticizing Obama for not accepting a debate with Clinton in Wisconsin, another about how she’d rebuild the middle class and a third hitting the Obama campaign for their response to her first ad. Clinton and her daughter Chelsea spent much of the weekend campaigning in Badger state, as did Obama and his wife Michelle.

Obama, though, has spent far more money on Wisconsin tv ads, and though the state’s demographics favor Clinton – rural, primary, large blue collar population – Wisconsin borders Obama’s home state of Illinois and he leads in Real Clear Politics’ average of Badger State polls.

While Plouffe predictably downplayed expectations, he welcomed the fight as one he thought Obama would win. “Whenever they’ve taken this negative tact, it hasn’t worked well for them in the past,” he told reporters on a call. At the same time all of the criticism may be having some affect – at least one poll has Clinton leading in Wisconsin.