Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Obama Looking to Extend Streak

Obama, Clinton face off in D.C., Md. and Va.

WASHINGTON - Democratic rivals Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton squared off Tuesday in primaries in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, home to the White House, their long-sought prize.

With 168 delegates at stake, Obama hoped to erode if not erase the lead Clinton has held since the campaign began.

The Illinois senator won a string of contests in all regions of the country over the weekend, routing Clinton in a Louisiana primary as well as caucuses in Nebraska, Washington state and Maine.

Strong turnout anticipated
Early turnout in Virginia was reported high, and city officials in the District of Columbia were hoping that many newly registered voters would show up at the polls. Maryland election officials were also projecting a strong turnout, particularly in the Democratic race.

The final Maine returns had not been tallied when Clinton's campaign manager announced she was stepping down. Coming several days after the former first lady lent her own campaign $5 million, it was a fresh indication of the trouble the one-time front-runner is having fighting off Obama's strong challenge for the nomination.

Aides to the former first lady concede she is in the midst of a difficult period in which she could lose 10 straight contests. She is hoping to rebound on March 4, in primaries in Ohio and Texas, states where both candidates have already begun television advertising.

In fact, while still in Virginia on Tuesday, Clinton did satellite interviews with 10 TV stations in Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin, calling for more debates and addressing regional concerns such as the economy in Ohio and immigration in Texas.

A united ticket?

Asked about the possibility of sharing the November ticket with Obama, she said it was too soon to talk about such things, but in an interview with WTMJ in Milwaukee she echoed the comment her rival has been making about her: "I have the highest regard for him. He was my friend before this started, and he will be my friend going into the future."

Clinton began the night with 1,147 delegates, to 1,124 for Obama. Both are far from the 2,025 needed to win the nomination at the Democratic National Convention this summer.

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