By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
But the conservative Republicans who control the GOP apparatus in California are known for their tin-ear approach in a state where Republican voters are much more moderate. That mismatch has left California's GOP leaders branded as a "circular firing squad" for continually propping up candidates who can't win statewide office — and ignoring moderates.
Tuesday was no different. At a McCain victory party in Hollywood, walking distance from the Obama event, McCain was not in town, but a reveler noted that the closed primary didn't stop their guy — "even a little." Nobody at the low-key Cat & Fiddle on Sunset Boulevard, a sticky-floored hangout that boasts English-pub food, was the least bit surprised by McCain's win.
But at the Avalon nightclub, a few blocks away on Vine, across from the Capitol Records Building, the Obama campaign was in the odd position of acting as if his big loss in California — with polls wrongly showing a near tie — didn't matter.
At 9:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Fox News called the California Democratic primary for Hillary Clinton. At that moment, a handsome and hip Obama crowd was watching MSNBC, sipping cocktails and listening to old Motown music spun by one of Los Angeles' best DJs, Peanut Butter Wolf. The nightclub exuded a feel of high cool. Mitchell Schwartz, asked what effect the loss in California would be to the Obama campaign, downplayed it, saying, "In the big picture, it doesn't mean a lot. We'll pick up a decent amount of delegates."
Since the California Democratic Party awards delegates — and the delegate count ultimately decides the nominee — through a complex system based on who wins in each congressional district in California, rather than "winner take all," Obama probably will get a decent number of California delegates. Clinton will be awarded far more, however, and she now has the bragging rights of a California victory.
About an hour later, a Clinton event held in Burbank illustrated the difference between these two camps, separated less by ideology than by dramatic differences in tone and style. Held at the local union headquarters of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees on a no-frills sound stage the size of a small gymnasium, the event drew Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who as usual posed for pictures, and then speed-talked his way through three TV interviews in less than 10 minutes.
The crowd had diminished, with Clinton declared the winner much earlier, but there were still a few Latino supporters standing around. A pull-down screen flashed images of talking heads discussing Super Tuesday results, and Bruce Springsteen sang "The Rising" through a speaker system that was not manned by a famous DJ.
The scene had a decidedly blue-collar, lunch-bucket vibe, with no glamour and no bartenders. Nobody was serving fancy cocktails or talking about hope. Young people talked about school, and older people talked about going to work the next day. By 11 p.m., the place was nearly empty, and the evening news was announcing a decisive nationwide showing for John McCain — and possibly a very long slog for Clinton and Obama.