Presitential candidate Edward M. Kennedy, who scored a solid victory in Connecticut Tuesday after essentially ignoring that state, is now planning the same "strategy" for Wisconsin.
Kennedy originally had scheduled four days of campaigning for next Tuesday's Wisconsin Democratic primary, but in the strategy shifts following his big wins in New York and Connecticut, that has been reduced to a single day. The senator will spend most of the weekend campaigning in Kansas, which also votes Tuesday, and Pennsylvania, where a major bloc of delegates to the Democratic convention will be chosen April 22.
Kennedy's decision to finesse Wisconsin -- leaving the state to a local organization with limited funds -- is partly an effort to set up an excuse if he does poorly there.
With Republican Rep. John B. Anderson and Democratic Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. actively competing for the liberal portion of the Wisconsin vote (the primary permits crossover voting), and with little time available to set up a full-scale effort, Kennedy's advisers are not overly confident.
Still, the Kennedy people are thinking out loud about the possibility of a strong showing in Wisconsin. In its liberal tradition and its demographics, the state bears some resemblance to Connecticut, which Kennedy won with almost no campaigning or campaign money.
While New York, which Kennedy also won, was the chief delegate prize of Tuesday's voting, the Kennedy camp concluded that the results in Connecticut might be the best news they received.
In New York, there were all sorts of excuses available to the Carter-Mondale campaign to explain why President Carter lost -- the high percentage of Jews in the electorate, city dwellers' anger at Carter's proposed budget cuts, for example -- and the White House invoked them all.
But the president's campaign workers had a harder time explaining away Carter's loss -- by a smaller margin -- in Connecticut, a largely suburban and rural state where Jews constitute a much smaller share of the electorate and where Catholics, who are supposedly repelled by Kennedy's character, provide about half the Democratic vote.
Carter outspent Kennedy in Connecticut by a mile and had the active support of a popular governor, Ella Grasso. And Kennedy spent less than two days in the state (although New York media advertising reached a good portion of Connecticut).
To the Kennedy advisers, this all suggests that discontent with the president was the major motivator in the Connecticut vote. If so, they say in hopeful tones, the same force might rise up and swat Carter in Wisconsin -- even without a full-scale Kennedy campaign there.
If Wisconsin, with 75 delegates, is to be the new Connecticut of the revised Kennedy game plan, Pennsylvania, with 185 delegates, will be treated as New York was. Kennedy plans intensive campaigning there in the next three weeks, focusing mainly on groups most likely to respond to his liberal challenge to Carter.
To thank the New Yorkers who supported him -- and to get a good "visual" for last night's television news -- Kennedy went to Grand Central Station in Manhattan yesterday morning to shake hands with commuters.
He was greeted with a big cheer when he walked into the station's looming concourse. He then spent half an hour engulfed in a surging human sea as people poured off trains and lined up to shake his hand.
The Kennedy people were still pinching themselves yesterday over their big wins Tuesday. A conversation overheard Tuesday night made clear their astonishment.
Kennedy's campaign manager and brother-in-law, Stephen Smith, walked up to a veteran strategist, Eddie Martin, as the returns came in.
Smith: "What the -- is happening here?"
Martin: "How the -- do I know?"