Friday, May 23, 2008

Scorched Earth: Clinton Campaign Morphs Into a 'Stop Obama' Movement


The Former First Lady's Threat to Take Her Fight Over Disputed Michigan and Florida Delegates to the Floor of the Denver Convention Raises Suspicions that Clinton Is Putting Personal Ambition Ahead of the Good of the Democratic Party -- and Risking Her Own Political Future

U.S. Democratic presidential candidates Senator Hillary Clinton ...

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama stand together before their Pennsylvania primary debate at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on April 16. But their cordiality may be rapidly vanishing as the former first lady's campaign is increasingly turning into a "Stop Obama" movement. Clinton is now threatening to take her fight to wrest the nomination from Obama all the way to the floor of the Democratic Convention in Denver this August -- a threat that is unlikely to sit well with party leaders and rank-and-file Democrats alike. (Photo: Jae C. Hong/Reuters)


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NOTE TO READERS:
Due to the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, May 26, the next edition of The 'Skeeter Bites Report will be published on Wednesday, May 28. As we Americans celebrate this long holiday weekend, please remember on Monday to pause to honor the men and women who gave their lives in service to our country.

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FRIDAY SPECIAL
By Skeeter Sanders


Hillary Rodham Clinton is well known for being a tenacious campaigner. But her comments and her actions since Tuesday's primaries in Kentucky and Oregon are sending alarming red flags among Democrats that the former first lady's campaign is transforming itself from a chase for the Democratic nomination into a full-scale "Stop Obama" movement.

It's a movement that -- despite repeated promises by both candidates to unify the party after the nomination contest is over -- threatens to sow lasting bitterness and rancor among the Democratic Party's rank and file. And that, in turn, could put Clinton's own political future at serious risk.

Clinton warned Wednesday that she's prepared to take her fight to seat disputed Florida and Michigan delegates to the convention floor if the two states want to go that far. In an interview with The Associated Press, Clinton was asked whether she would support the states if they continue the fight.

The presidential candidate said Wednesday, "Yes I will. I will, because I feel very strongly about this."

Clinton is calling for delegates from both states to be seated at the convention based on the primaries. Both states were stripped of their delegates because they voted early, violating national party rules. Clinton won both states; her arch-rival Barack Obama's name wasn't on the Michigan ballot.

Now badly trailing Obama among both pledged delegates and superdelegates -- as well as in the popular vote and number of states won -- Clinton's only hope of wresting the Democratic nomination away from Obama is to employ a scorched-earth strategy to force the party to allow Florida and Michigan delegates to be seated at the convention.

Party Officials Say Obama Has Begun Search for VP Running Mate

In a fresh sign that the general election campaign against GOP nominee-elect John McCain is well under way and his primary race against Clinton is basically over, Obama has begun a search for a vice-presidential running mate, the AP reported Thursday.

Obama has asked former Fannie Mae chief executive Jim Johnson to begin vetting potential VP picks, according to the news service, citing unnamed Democratic Party officials. Johnson did the same job for Democratic nominees John Kerry in 2004 and Walter Mondale in 1984.

Obama refused to acknowledge Johnson's role when the AP asked the Illinois senator about it on Captiol Hill.

"I haven't hired him. He's not on retainer. I'm not paying him any money. He is a friend of mine. I know him," Obama said. "I am not commenting on vice presidential matters because I have not [yet] won this nomination."

The party officials spoke on a condition of anonymity about a process that the campaign wants to keep quiet.

Clinton Hints Darkly of Repeat of Florida Election Debacle in 2000

Clinton invoked Democratic nightmares of the 2000 Florida presidential recount to demand the revival of two voided primaries vital to her fast-fading White House hopes. But Obama declared he was already on the cusp of the nomination, as he traded blows in the latest foreign policy flare-up of an evolving general election battle with Republican John McCain.

Clinton and Obama both targeted Florida on Wednesday, a day after their split of the latest primaries in Kentucky and Oregon left the Illinois senator just 67 delegates shy of clinching the party's standard for November's election.

The former first lady was in a defiant mood at a rally in Boca Raton, warning her party had deprived voters of basic rights by stripping Florida and Michigan of national convention delegates over a scheduling dispute.

"You learned the hard way what happens when your votes aren't counted and the candidate with fewer votes is declared the winner," Clinton said. "The lesson of 2000 here in Florida is crystal-clear: if any votes aren't counted, the will of the people is not realized and our democracy is diminished."

Clinton's comments placed her in the role of ex-vice president Al Gore, who many Democrats believe was deprived of the White House in 2000, when the Supreme Court stopped a Florida recount, handing the presidency to then-Texas Governor George W. Bush.

It's the Delegate Count and Party Rules, Stupid!

But Democratic Party rules clearly state that the total of elected delegates in each state is the measure of victory -- not how many total votes were cast. And even if Michigan and Florida delegates were reinstated at a party meeting in Washington on May 31, Clinton would still trail Obama in that decisive count.

With Obama leading Clinton among the all-important superdelegates -- and with no sign whatsoever that the remaining undecided superdelegates will break Clinton's way -- Clinton's scorched-earth "Stop Obama" drive is doomed to fail and is sure to inflict serious, perhaps irreparable, damage to her future standing in the party.

Obama already is within 100 delegates of reaching the magic number of 2.026 delegates to clinch the nomination. According to the independent Web site RealClearPolitics.com, Obama led by 1,959 total delegates to Clinton's 1,778. Barring a shift among the remaining uncommitted superdelegates to the former first lady, she would end up with no more than 1,900 delegates at best, if Florida and Michigan were included.

Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod said their campaign was "open to compromise" on the Florida-Michigan question. "We are willing to go more than half way," he told National Public Radio. "We're willing to work to make sure that we can achieve a compromise. And I guess the question is: Is Senator Clinton's campaign willing to do the same?"

Apparently, she's not. Not only is the former first lady determined to have it her way on the Florida/Michigan issue, Clinton is also setting a dangerous precedent for future Democratic Party presidential nominating contests whereby states that violate party rules can do so with impunity.

Sorry, Senator Clinton, but you agreed to abide by the party rules when Florida and Michigan decided to hold their primaries in violation of them. You, therefore, have to abide by them. You cannot have the rules changed at this late stage of the game for your own benefit.

All the other candidates, including Obama, agreed to abide by the rules. Only you, Senator Clinton, are crying foul -- and you're doing it only because you're at a disadvantage in the only count that matters for the nomination -- the delegate count.

Moreover, we're talking about a party primary, which is governed by rules set by the party, not the general election, which is governed by state and federal law. The Supreme Court ruled decades ago that political parties have a right to set their own rules, provided that they're not in direct conflict with the law.

Therefore, Senator Clinton, your invocation of the 2000 general-election debacle in Florida is specious, especially since members of the Democratic National Committee who support your candidacy -- most notably Harold Ickes -- voted to strip Florida and Michigan of their delegates in the first place. Floridians -- as well as Michiganers -- will have their say as to who they want to be our next president when they vote in the November 4 general election.

Poll: Democrats Nationwide Closing Ranks Behind Obama

And despite her huge wins in West Virginia and Kentucky, Clinton appears to be swimming against an increasingly strong current of support for Obama among Democrats nationwide. The latest Gallup daily tracking poll suggests Democratic voters are beginning to coalesce around the Illinois senator.

Obama holds an 11-point lead over Clinton in Gallup’s latest daily tracking poll released Thursday. He has the support of 53 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning independent voters while Clinton’s support is at 42 percent.

Obama’s lead over Clinton is down slightly from a 16-point, 55-39 percent edge on May 18, two days before Tuesday's primaries in Kentucky, where Clinton clobbered Obama by more than 30 points, 66-34 percent, and in Oregon, where Obama scored an easy 56-38 percent win. It remains a dramatic reversal of fortune for Obama, who, prior to John Edwards’ withdrawal from the race, lagged 20 points behind Clinton in mid-January.

The Longer Clinton Fights On, the More She Turns Off Black Voters

The Clinton campaign -- whether consciously or unconsciously -- has been subtly and not-so-subtly playing to the racial fears of working-class white voters, particularly in West Virginia and Kentucky. But while the former first lady adopts a populist appeal to working-class whites, she's at the same time alienating blacks -- the Democratic Party's most loyal voter constituency since the 1960s.

Employing euphemisms -- long denounced by many African-Americans as racial "code words" -- about how Obama can't win over “blue-collar” voters, Clinton is completely ignoring the reality that there are many blue-collar blacks.

This comes on top of Bill Clinton's ill-mannered attempt in January to belittle the significance of Obama's overwhelming victory in the South Carolina primary by comparing it to the Reverend Jesse Jackson's South Carolina wins in 1984 and 1988 -- a naked attempt to paint Obama into a corner as "the black candidate," unable to attract white voter support.

The former president's remarks infuriated African-American voters -- who make up more than half of the Democratic electorate in South Carolina -- and they responded by voting overwhelmingly for Obama.

Until the South Carolina primary, black voters were almost evenly divided between Obama and Clinton, with African-American women especially torn between voting for the nation's first woman president on the one hand and the country's first black president on the other.

Since the South Carolina primary, however, black voter support for Clinton has almost completely collapsed, with Clinton drawing less than ten percent of the black vote in every primary and caucus -- including a record-low six percent in West Virginia.

Not since the 1972 run -- abruptly ended by a would-be assassin -- of former Alabama Governor George Wallace, a one-time arch-segregationist, has a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination fared this badly among black voters.

Without Black Voter Support, No Democrat Can Win the White House in November

The cold political reality that Clinton has apparently chosen to ignore is the fact that the last Democratic presidential nominee to win a majority of white voters in the November election was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Ever since Johnson signed a host of civil rights legislation into law during his presidency -- most notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- the Democrats have seen a steady erosion of support among white voters, especially Southerners, to the Republicans. It is, therefore, imperative for the Democratic nominee to secure the strong support of African-American voters in order to win the November election.

How imperative is that? Look at history: No Democrat has won the White House without strong black voter support since John F. Kennedy in 1960 -- at a time when many African-Americans, particularly in the South, were barred from voting by racist "Jim Crow" segregation laws long since struck down by the courts as unconstitutional.

Both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton owe their presidencies to black voters providing them with their margins of victory. Carter lost the white vote in the 1976 election to President Gerald Ford, 51 percent to 49 percent. Clinton garnered only 38 percent of the white vote in 1992, with the majority 62 percent divided between President George H.W. Bush and billionaire Ross Perot.

Hillary Clinton's campaign, by effectively writing off African-American voters -- and by adding insult to injury by insisting that only the former first lady can draw the support of working-class whites -- is committing the same fatal electoral mistake that Michael Dukakis made in 1988.

Dukakis, then governor of Massachusetts, made no attempt to appeal to black voters in the fall campaign after he beat back a challenge by Jesse Jackson for the 1988 Democratic nomination. Like Obama today, Jackson had a lock on the black vote in the primaries leading to the party's convention in Atlanta.

As a result of Dukakis' apparent snub, African-American voters largely stayed home in the fall election, resulting in his loss to the senior Bush.

(Indeed, there was little reason for anyone to vote for Dukakis: He ran a terrible campaign, marked by an awful response to a question on violent crime in the second of three televised debates with the senior Bush and by outraging the anti-war wing of the Democratic Party when he appeared in a campaign TV commercial driving a military tank.)

On the other hand, for former Vice President Walter Mondale, the 1984 Democratic nominee, the support of black voters -- although it was overwhelming -- was of no help to him, as virtually everyone else, not willing to see any member of the Carter administration return to the White House, buried Mondale in Ronald Reagan's 49-state landslide.

Clinton-Obama Contest Also Opens Up Generational Divide

But race isn't the only thing that threatens to split up the Democrats. Even more starkly than race, the Clinton-Obama contest has also driven a wedge between older and younger voters.

Except for Kentucky -- where the former first lady lost only among blacks -- Clinton's most hard-core supporters have come almost exclusively among older voters aged 50 and higher, with Obama attracting an equally hard-core base of younger voters aged 30 and under -- most of them voting for the first time -- while evenly splitting voters between 30 and 50.

Ever since the passage in 1971 of the 26th Amendment of the Constitution, which lowered the voting age (and, consequently, the age of legal majority) from 21 to 18, young people have proven to be the least interested in participating in electoral politics -- until this year.

Obama's "campaign of hope" and his steadfast refusal to play to what the 46-year-old Illinois senator calls the "politics of fear and division" -- not to mention his remarkable background and youthful energy -- have drawn millions of young people to his campaign as no other presidential candidate has since Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.

Clinton, on the other hand, has demonstrated that she's driven by a fierce ambition to take back the White House from President Bush -- even though he's constitutionally barred from seeking a third term -- by any means necessary, including running over a fellow senator of the same party in the process.

Democrats -- and America -- at a Stark Crossroads

But the former first lady knows that her candidacy is also bringing back memories of the darker side of her husband's presidency, and not just among younger voters. For many, the thought of Bill Clinton returning to the White House -- albeit as the nation's first "first gentleman" -- is too much to accept.

The Clintons' eight years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue were very polarizing for America (Although the present White House occupant has proven himself to be far more polarizing than the Clintons). This blogger is not convinced that Americans want a repeat of that episode.

Nor is this blogger convinced that Americans want a continuation of the Bush-Clinton "dynasty." As I've noted before on numerous occasions, this November will mark the 20th anniversary of George H.W. Bush's election to the presidency. We haven't had a president with a surname other than Bush or Clinton since.

It was not the intent of America's founders for this country to be governed by a dynasty, after having thrown off the yoke of the dynastic rule of the British monarch. After 20 years, this blogger firmly believes that the time is overdue for the Bush-Clinton "dynasty" to come to an end.

For the good of the Democratic Party -- and for the good of America -- it's time for someone other than a Clinton to be the party's presidential standard-bearer. It's time for someone other than a Bush or a Clinton to be handed the keys to the Oval Office.

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Volume III, Number 34
Copyright 2008, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.












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Monday, May 19, 2008

It's Too Late: Florida, Michigan Delegates Can't Save Clinton

Obama's Overall Delegate Lead -- And His Accelerating Momentum Among Superdelegates -- Is Now Too Large for Clinton to Close, Even if Florida and Michigan Delegates Are Seated as the Former First Lady Wants Them to Be

Obama Oregon

Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama embraces his daughters, Malia Ann and Natasha, and his wife, Michelle, on Sunday during a campaign event in Portland, Oregon, which drew about 75,000 people -- the largest crowd to attend a political campaign rally so far this year. (Photo: Greg Wahl-Stephens/Associated Press)


SPECIAL REPORT
By Nedra Pickler and Mike Glover
The Associated Press


Sorry, Senator Clinton. Michigan and Florida can't save your campaign.

Interviews with those considering how to handle the two states' banished convention delegates found little interest in the former first lady's best-case scenario. Her position, part of a formidable comeback challenge, is that all the delegates be seated in accordance with their disputed primaries.

And even if they were, Hillary Rodham Clinton still couldn't catch up with Barack Obama's growing lead in delegates.

The Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee, a 30-member panel charged with interpreting and enforcing party rules, is scheduled to meet May 31 to consider how to handle Michigan and Florida's 366 delegates.

Last year, the panel imposed the harshest punishment it could render against the two states after they scheduled primaries in January, even though they were instructed not to vote until February 5 or later. Michigan and Florida lost all their delegates to the national convention, and all the Democratic candidates agreed not to campaign in the two states, stripping them of all the influence they were trying to build by voting early.

But now there is agreement on all sides that at least some of the delegates should be restored in a gesture of party unity and respect to voters in two general election battlegrounds.

Clinton has been arguing for full reinstatement, which would boost her standing. She won both states, even though they didn't count toward the nomination and neither candidate campaigned in them. Obama even had his name pulled from Michigan's ballot.

Committee Members Say Florida, Michigan 'Must Be Punished' for Breaking Party Rules...

The Associated Press interviewed a third of the panel members and several other Democrats involved in the negotiations and found widespread agreement that the states must be punished for stepping out of line. If not, the members say, other states will do the same thing in four years.

"We certainly want to be fair to both candidates, and we want to be sure that we are fair to the 48 states who abided by the rules," said Democratic National Committee Secretary Alice Germond, a panel member unaligned with either candidate. "We don't want absolute chaos for 2012.

"We want to reach out to Michigan and Florida and seat some group of delegates in some manner, at least most of us do. These are two critical states for the general (election) and the voters of those states who were not the people who caused this awful conundrum to occur deserve our attention and deserve to be a part of our process and deserve to be at the convention," she said.

... But Panel Is Split Between Obama, Clinton Partisans

Just as Democrats across the country have been divided over which candidate would make the better nominee, most of the panel members also bring personal preferences and political allegiances to the table.

Many are long-standing party officials with close ties to the Clintons. The former first lady has 13 members publicly supporting her. Eight are openly aligned with Obama. Nine others are officially undeclared.

"We have to have delegates, and they have to be delegations that reflect the opinions of those two states," said former DNC Chairman Don Fowler, a committee member supporting Clinton. "How we get there is very different because everyone sees these questions of who it helps and who it hurts. I don't think the formulation has been found that will get around the piece at this point." But he said a solution is probably possible among the diverse interests.

Because Obama is in the lead for the nomination, his camp heads into the meeting in a position of strength. It is possible the Illinois senator could clinch the nomination by the time the panel meets if he picks up the pace of superdelegate endorsements in the next two weeks.

But Obama has such a lead that he may be able to afford to be generous and give Clinton most of the delegates. That would help put the issue behind them and help him build good will in Michigan and Florida heading into the November election.

Still, some of Obama's supporters think the fairest solution is to disregard the primary votes and split the delegations evenly between the two candidates.

"It has to be a fair process for both candidates," said member Yvonne Gates, an Obama supporter from Nevada who said she wasn't sure what position she would support at the meeting. "My definition is a 50-50 split is something that is fair. It cannot be a situation where you give one candidate more votes than the other. In my opinion that wasn't an election when they didn't have a chance to get out and talk to the people of that community."

It's also possible that any vote that recognizes the Michigan and Florida results would legitimize their elections. Clinton has been arguing that she leads in the popular vote, but that's only when both states are included and it is very slim — fewer than 5,000 votes out of 34 million cast.

Clinton's Claim of Popular-Vote Lead Ignores Caucus States That Heavily Favored Obama

Her accounting also doesn't include some caucus states that favored Obama and where the popular vote wasn't tallied. The measure of winning the nomination is not the popular vote but the delegate count, and according to the AP's latest tally, Obama leads 1,907 to 1,718, with 2,026 needed for the nomination. Still, Clinton is trying to use the popular-vote argument to win over some delegates.

So far, Obama's campaign has not been giving direction publicly or privately to panel members. The Clinton campaign's official position has been full reinstatement, but her advisers acknowledge they are considering an idea before the panel to seat the delegates with half a vote each. Clinton campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe said last Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that they "certainly might" accept a compromise to seat half the delegates.

If their elections had been held according to party rules, Michigan and Florida would have allocated a total of 313 pledged delegates based on the outcome of the vote. Using the results of the January elections, Clinton would get 178 to Obama's 67, giving her a 111-vote advantage. As of Thursday, she was behind 180 delegates, so that would not catch her up even under that unlikely scenario.

The plans before the committee will be more generous to Obama. The Michigan Democratic Party has proposed giving 69 of its 128 delegates to Clinton and 59 to Obama, an advantage of 10 delegates for Clinton.

A proposal from Florida would halve its 185 delegates. From that, Clinton would get 52.5 and Obama 33.5, a 19-delegate advantage for Clinton.

"I think it's a reasonable solution to the problem that was created, and my hope is that we'll be able to get past this and move on," said Allan Katz, an Obama supporter who serves on the panel but won't be able to vote on any Florida solution because he is from the state.

The committee is not bound to select the proposals offered and has authority to reinstate any number of delegates and divide them in any way.

Michigan, Florida Superdelegates Still At Issue

An open question is how to handle the other type of delegates each state lost — the superdelegates who are party leaders not bound by the outcome of the vote and are free to support whatever candidate they personally choose. Michigan has 28 superdelegates, and Florida 25. A total of eight have declared for Obama, seven for Clinton and the rest are undeclared.

Germond said she hopes the meeting will begin the process of unifying the party.

"Probably what we will come up with will not make everybody or anybody completely happy, which will mean that we did a good job," she said. "It is mighty unfortunate that at this point in our nominating process we are talking about people who did not abide by the process instead of talking about (beating Republican presidential candidate) John McCain."

Obama Rally in Oregon Draws Biggest Crowd to Date -- And Goes After McCain

Hours before being greeted by the biggest crowd of his campaign, Obama quietly told a small group of seniors Sunday that Republican John McCain would threaten the Social Security they depend on because he supports privatizing the program.

Fire officials estimated 75,000 packed into a riverside park for a spectacular afternoon rally at a sun-splashed scene on the banks of the Willamette River in Portland. They said an additional 15,000 were left outside and dozens of boaters could be seen floating in the river.

"Wow, wow, wow," Obama said as he surveyed the audience. "We have had a lot of rallies. This is the most spectacular setting, the most spectacular crowd we have had this entire campaign."

While more subdued, his appearance early in the day before about 130 people at an assisted living facility to talk Social Security was a significant attempt to tie the GOP's presidential nominee-in-waiting to an unpopular President Bush on a pocket book issue that motivates seniors — and also concerns younger generations worried about their own future retirement.

"Let me be clear, privatizing Social Security was a bad idea when George W. Bush proposed it, it's a bad idea today," Obama said. "That's why I stood up against this plan in the Senate and that's why I won't stand for it as president."

Bush proposed a Social Security plan in 2005 that focused on creating private accounts for younger workers, but it never came up for a vote in Congress. Democrats strongly opposed the idea and few Republicans embraced it.

Obama said McCain would push to raise the retirement age for collecting Social Security benefits or trim annual cost-of-living increases. Obama has rejected both ideas as solutions to the funding crisis projected for Social Security in favor of making higher-income workers pay more into the system.

"We have to protect Social Security for future generations without pushing the burden onto seniors who have earned the right to retire in dignity," he said.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds accused Obama of making "misinformed partisan attacks."

"John McCain has been clear about his belief that we must fix Social Security for future generations and keep our promises to today's retirees, but raising taxes should not be the answer to every problem," Bound said.

Clinton, in Kentucky, Gets an Unpleasant Reminder of Husband's Infidelity

Clinton spent a second straight day in Kentucky, where she is favored to win when its voters head to the polls Tuesday -- the same day Obama is expected to coast to an easy victory in Oregon.

She attended worship services at a Methodist church in Bowling Green, and happily sang hymns and joined in Bible readings. But her smile faded when the pastor launched into a sermon about adultery, asking his congregants whether the devil had ever whispered over their shoulders in their marriages.

For the former first lady, the sermon was sure to revive unpleasant personal memories of former President Bill Clinton's infidelities, particularly his much-publicized affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky -- a scandal that got him impeached in 1999.

Her mood appeared to brighten by the time she arrived for a rally at Western Kentucky University.

"Now, my opponent said the other day he wasn't coming back, so I've got the whole state to myself," Clinton said, sounding happy not to be sharing the Kentucky spotlight. "What a treat."

Later Sunday, the Clinton campaign collected about $150,000 at a backyard fundraiser in Fort Mitchell, a northern Kentucky suburb of Cincinnati. Nathan Smith, the event's host, is vice chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party and a superdelegate — but he still has not committed to supporting Clinton.

Obama Shifts Fully Into Fall Campaign Mode

Obama has begun casting himself as the inevitable nominee and using his time to distinguish himself from McCain as he pivots toward the fall campaign. He has scheduled appearances later this week in Iowa and Florida, two key swing states.

He underscored that speaking with reporters in the Portland suburb of Milwaukee, saying he'll use the Iowa visit as another way to focus on November.

"We thought it was a terrific way to kind of bring things full circle," said Obama. "We still have some contests left but if Kentucky and Oregon go as we hope, then we think we will have a majority of pledged delegates at that point and that's a pretty significant mark, that means that after contests in every state, or almost every state and the territories, that we have received a majority of the delegates that are assigned by voters."

He declined to declare victory.

"It doesn't mean we've declared victory because I won't be the nominee until we have a combination of both pledged delegates and super delegates to hit the mark," said Obama. "What it does mean is the voters have given us a majority of delegates. Obviously that's what this primary and caucus process is all about."

During the meeting with seniors, Obama was asked why McCain seems to have avoided the enormous press scrutiny the Democrats have gotten.

Obama said McCain has benefited from a Republican nomination process that ended early while the Democratic race continues. He said the attention both candidates receive will grow more intense as the race settles into an Obama-McCain contest.

"It's very understandable that the press has focused on myself and Senator Clinton because it's been a pretty exciting race," Obama said. "The fact is that the press will submit him to the same scrutiny they are giving to me."

"People will lift the hood and kick the tires with John McCain, just like they do with me," he said, who traveled Sunday with his wife and daughters.

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Volume III, Number 33
Special Report Copyright 2008, The Associated Press.
The 'Skeeter Bites Report Copyright 2008, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.







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