PLAINFIELD, Ind. — The Pennsylvania primary may be the next stop along the turbulent road to the Democratic presidential nomination, but the epic battle between Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama will almost certainly not be settled there, making states like Kentucky more important with each election contest, reports the New York Times.
In fact, Clinton aides told "The Times" in an article in its Sunday edition their candidate will be campaigning in Kentucky and neighboring West Virginia this week. The dates, times and places were not mentioned in the article.
Voters of Indiana do not weigh in until May 6, but Mr. Obama arrived here Saturday for his first visit to the state this year, making it clear the campaign hinges on more than the outcome of the Pennsylvania contest on April 22. As he sees it, each of the eight remaining states on the calendar holds significance in the protracted fight for delegates.
“We are going to be campaigning actively in Indiana,” Mr. Obama said to about 3,000 people in a high school gymnasium in this Indianapolis suburb. “This is your campaign. This is your chance to make your mark on history.”
So even as Mrs. Clinton spent Saturday in Pennsylvania, attending St. Patrick’s Day parades in Pittsburgh and Scranton, her campaign was looking ahead to its first trip to Indiana on Thursday. While hoping to rely upon a strong showing in Pennsylvania, her coming visit here underscored the notion that winning a share of the 72 delegates in Indiana could be just as fruitful as claiming a slice of the 148 delegates in Pennsylvania, reports the New York Times.
For most states, the presidential contest had usually been well settled by this stage of the race. In Indiana, for example, the challenge between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama offers the first viable choice in a Democratic primary since Michael S. Dukakis and the Rev. Jesse Jackson competed here in 1988.
On Saturday, The Indianapolis Star described Mr. Obama’s stop here as one of the biggest political days in Hendricks County since President Ronald Reagan visited Danville, Ind., on July 13, 1987.
The calendar, while sprawling, remains as vexing and uncertain as it has for nearly a year, reports the Times.
Mrs. Clinton, of New York, said Saturday she hoped the Michigan Legislature would move quickly to approve a proposal for a new statewide primary on June 3, which would be run by state elections officials but financed with private money. It would take the place of the January primary, where she was the only major candidate whose name was on the ballot because the contest was declared void by the Democratic National Committee.
“It needs to get resolved, and hopefully Michigan by the end of this week will have done that,” she told reporters. She added, “Otherwise, they should just count the votes” that were cast in January.
As the Michigan and Florida contests dangle in limbo, both campaigns on Saturday looked back to Iowa, where a fresh battle for delegates was under way at county conventions. In most presidential cycles, the events effectively ratify results of the January caucuses, but Mr. Obama gained new delegates from people who had pledged their support to John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator who dropped out of the race, The New York Times reports.
In a briefing aboard her plane in Pennsylvania on Saturday, Mrs. Clinton said that Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania were essential to a Democratic victory in November because they represent a broad cross-section of the voters the party needs to defeat the presumed Republican nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona.
“There is a generally accepted position that Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida are the critical swing states for Democrats,” she said. “You have to try to win at least two out of three. I’d like to win three of three.”
She did not mention the fact that no delegates were awarded from the Florida contest because it was held in violation of national Democratic party rules. Neither she nor Mr. Obama campaigned there, but 1.7 million Democrats turned out nonetheless, and she prevailed 50 percent to 33 percent.
While Mrs. Clinton is campaigning aggressively in Pennsylvania, aides said she would not neglect other states where she believed her prospects were strong. In addition to Indiana, aides said, she intends to campaign this week in West Virginia and Kentucky, the newspaper reports.
For his part, Mr. Obama is also focusing on North Carolina, where the primary, like in Indiana, is May 6. Both campaigns, meanwhile, are preparing to dispatch workers to the remaining contests, including Montana, Oregon, Puerto Rico and South Dakota.
As the campaign goes forward, Mr. Obama implored Americans on Saturday to set aside the racial divisions that had arisen in recent weeks. He repudiated remarks of his former minister — he called them “incendiary” — and urged voters to “take a different path.”
“The forces of division have started to raise their ugly heads again,” Mr. Obama told a crowded town meeting of Indiana voters. “I’m not here to cast blame or point fingers because everybody senses that there’s been this shift.”
Last week, Geraldine A. Ferraro stepped down from a fund-raising post in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign after suggesting Mr. Obama had an easier path because he was black. And Mr. Obama removed his former Chicago minister, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., from his campaign’s religious leadership team after videotapes surfaced of him referring to the United States as the “U.S. of the K.K.K. A.”
“Clearly, if all I knew was those statements I saw on television, I’d be shocked,” Mr. Obama told The New York Times. “It reminds me that we’ve got a tragic history when it comes to race in this country. We’ve got a lot of pent-up anger and bitterness and misunderstanding.”
Copyright: The New York Times