It all comes down to Guam…
Not really – but on Saturday, Guam Democrats will have the unusual ability to shape the Democratic presidential contest when they head to caucus for their candidate of choice.
The tiny Pacific island and U.S. territory offers four pledged delegates, and while neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton have actually halted their mainland campaigns to travel to Guam, they have been politicking from afar. Neither is willing to give up one delegate without a fight.
Both candidates have taken out local advertising and done interviews with local media, touting their health care plans in particular for Guamanians.
More than 3,000 island residents are expected to take part at 20 caucus sites.
“We’re seeing the same types of grassroots activity we’re seeing in other states,” Obama spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said. “We had a significant turnout (of Guam volunteers).”
She said Obama opened up a campaign office in the capital city of Hagatna in mid-April and has three people on staff. Plus she said his half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and Hawaii Rep. Neil Abercrombie have done interviews with the local press on his behalf.
Obama, in a phone interview with the Pacific Daily News this week, said his administration would work with Guam officials to help bring more medical providers to the island.
“We’ve got to make sure that our Medicaid spending, generally, is designed more effectively, so that we can save money, waste less, and that way we can make sure that Guam and the territories are adequately funded,” Obama said.
He said Friday he would support reexamining a $5.4 million Medicaid spending limit imposed on the territory.
Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, told KUAM radio earlier that the New York senator would work to remove the Medicaid cap. The Clinton campaign pledged that, if elected president, she would appoint a senior adviser to the defense secretary to help Guam plan for the arrival of 8,000 U.S. Marines and their dependents. The Pentagon expects to transfer them from Okinawa by 2014.
Clinton does not have an office in Guam, but Clinton spokesman Angel Urena said in an e-mail that her supporters have been “campaigning aggressively all across the island.”
Urena said Clinton is up with two radio ads and three print ads, and she recently addressed a Guam rally via video conference.
At least one of Guam’s five superdelegates has come out for Clinton. Gilson said the others are not committed.
The candidates also have also gotten a handful of donations from Guam supporters half a world away.
The Center for Responsive Politics Web site shows that Obama received $4,500 from Guam contributors, while Clinton received $5,200.