From the New York Times
A Mighty Fine Place to Be
By Jeff Zeleny
HOUSTON – “Texas,” that classic two-step from the Charlie Daniels Band was playing here tonight when Senator Barack Obama took the stage to claim his Wisconsin prize.
One week ago, Mr. Obama delivered his victory speech for the Potomac primaries during a rally in Madison, Wis. So when news of his Wisconsin triumph arrived tonight, he had already moved onto Texas.
“Houston,” Mr. Obama said, “I think we have achieved liftoff here.”
In the Toyota Center, where a crowd of 20,000 people had filled the arena that is home to the Houston Rockets, Mr. Obama stood on stage for several minutes as applause lingered. His traditional welcoming song by U2 was replaced tonight by the Charlie Daniels Band.
There’s a place not too far away from here
Out with the cows and the Lone Star beer
Where the livin’ and lovin’ is quite all right with me
Well they call it Texas and it’s a mighty fine place to be
Mr. Obama, who won his 24th state tonight in his bid to win the Democratic presidential race, spent little time in his speech dwelling on Wisconsin. He looked ahead to March 4, when he will find out just how mighty fine a place Texas is for his candidacy.
“Y’all know how to do it in Texas,” Mr. Obama said. He added: “The change we seek is still months and miles away and we need the good people of Texas to help us get there.”
With Wisconsin in the books – by dawn Hawaii will be, too – there is a two week pause in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. It is the longest break yet in the chaotic two-month series of primaries and caucuses.
It is a time for regrouping and reassessing – for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mr. Obama as well, whose campaign spent much of the hours leading up to the rally tonight dealing with a third-straight day of news coverage about the similarities between his speeches and those of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a longtime friend from Chicago.
In his 45-minute address tonight, Mr. Obama referred by name to Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. Not so for Mrs. Clinton, who he extended only a few oblique references to.
There will be no such luxury on Thursday night, when the Democratic rivals face off at a debate in Austin on the campus of the University of Texas. Mrs. Clinton placed a brief telephone call to Mr. Obama at 9:45 p.m. in Texas, aides said, extending her congratulations on his Wisconsin victory.
“Every week, the coalition is growing,” David Axelrod, the chief strategist for the Obama campaign, said in an interview. Looking ahead, he added: “We’re not going to get drawn into a contest of insults. I don’t think anyone is looking for that.”
Stay tuned. The next election night is only 14 days away.