Obama seeks focus on end of primary campaign

by Michael O. Allen on May 17, 2008

EUGENE, Oregon (AP) — Attempting to lay a symbolic claim to his party’s presidential nomination, Democrat Barack Obama will mark the latest round of primary voting with a rally in Iowa, where his solid win in January caucuses propelled him to his status as the front-runner.

Obama was campaigning Saturday for primaries Tuesday in Oregon and Kentucky as his aides announced the rally on primary night in Iowa, which they described as “a critical general election state that Democrats must win in November.”

Rival Hillary Rodham Clinton has a strong lead in polls in Kentucky, but Obama has the advantage in Oregon.

Obama has built a solid lead in Democratic National Convention delegates over Clinton, and is working overtime to cast an image of inevitability to his campaign for the nomination. In recent days, he has spent more time focused on his differences with certain Republican nominee John McCain than sparring with Clinton.

Iowa has been a swing state in recent elections. Democrat Al Gore narrowly carried the state in 2000, and President Bush collected the state’s seven electoral votes by just over 10,000 votes in 2004. Since that time, however, Democrats have build a substantial edge in registered voters, and turnout in the January precinct caucuses was at record levels.

Obama will be joined by wife, Michelle, for the Iowa rally, a homecoming of sorts for the couple. The rally is the latest effort by Obama to shift attention away from the primary season to the November election even though Clinton continues to maintain a full campaign schedule in primary states.

The last Democratic primaries are June 3 in Montana and South Dakota.

Clinton began the nomination race far better known than Obama, and was considered by many to be the likely nominee in the early days of the campaign. Obama countered that perception with an intense grass-roots campaign in Iowa that led to a surpisingly easy win. Though Clinton rebounded with a win in the New Hampshire primary, Obama has maintained his status as the front-runner.

Obama won’t be able to capture the delegates needed to collect the party’s nomination strictly through primaries — he also needs to increase his support from superdelegates, the elected officials and party leaders who are delegates because of their positions.

Clinton had led Obama in superdelegates through most of the year, but he recently overtook her and now leads 295.5 to 274.5 — including a superdelegate in Maryland he collected Saturday.

Overall, Obama has 1,905 delegates to Clinton’s 1,719, with 2,026 delegates are needed to secure the nomination.

Underscoring his shift to a general election strategy, Obama is heading to Florida next week — a key general election state where he has not yet campaigned.

The Democratic National Committee stripped Florida of its delegates as punishment for moving up its primary to January, earlier than allowed by party rules.

Clinton, who did not campaign in the state either, won the Florida primary. She and Obama have been at odds over seating the state’s delegation at the national convention in Denver in August.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: