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Obama Wins Mississippi Primary

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THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - March 13, 2008
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Obama Wins Mississippi Primary
By Michael Luo and Jeff Zeleny
The New York Times

Senator Barack Obama beat Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton 
on Tuesday in Mississippi's Democratic primary, the final 
contest before what promises to be a crucial showdown in 
Pennsylvania in six weeks. 

This would be Mr. Obama's second straight victory - he 
won the Wyoming caucuses over the weekend - enabling him 
to rebound from a trio of popular vote losses to Mrs. 
Clinton in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island. 

Mr. Obama's lead in Mississippi was built on a wave of 
support among blacks, who made up half those who turned 
out to vote Tuesday, according to surveys conducted by 
the television networks and The Associated Press of voters 
leaving polling places. The surveys found that roughly 90 
percent of black voters supported Mr. Obama, but only a 
third of white voters supported him, suggesting a racially 
polarized electorate in the state. 

"It's just another win in our column and we are getting 
more delegates," Mr. Obama said in an interview on CNN 
from Chicago, where he arrived Tuesday evening after spend-
ing the day campaigning in Mississippi and Pennsylvania. 
"I am grateful to the people of Mississippi for the wonder-
ful support. Wat we've tried to do is steadily make sure 
that in each state we are making the case about the need 
for change in this country." 

The stage is now set for Pennsylvania on April 22, which 
opens the final stage of the Democratic nominating fight, 
with nine other states and territories left to weigh in 
before the convention in late August. 

Mr. Obama had been expected to win resoundingly in 
Mississippi, a state where 36 percent of the population 
is black, the highest percentage in the nation. Mr. Obama 
has enjoyed overwhelming support among black voters and 
won all the other contests in the Deep South by large 
margins. 

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While Mrs. Clinton stumped in the state last week and 
former President Bill Clinton dropped in over the weekend, 
the Clinton campaign had mostly been looking ahead to 
Pennsylvania, with its 158 delegates at stake. 

Indeed, Mrs. Clinton has not been in Mississippi since 
Friday, and she was campaigning Tuesday in Pennsylvania, 
while Mr. Obama started Tuesday in Mississippi but went 
to Pennsylvania as well. 

Mr. Obama stopped in at a diner in Greenville, Miss., 
on Tuesday morning, an hour after polls opened in the 
state, putting in a final appeal to voters and ordering 
a breakfast of hard-scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, 
wheat toast and grits. 

"I promise when I'm president of the United States, I'll 
come back to the Delta," he said. "You all keep me in 
your prayers now." 

It is unclear how much difference the late campaigning 
had. The early surveys of voters, conducted by Edison 
Media Research and Mitofsky International, showed that 
6 out of 10 Democratic primary voters made up their 
minds more than a month ago. 

Mrs. Clinton was in Harrisburg, Pa., on Tuesday where she 
addressed more than 2,000 people inside an auditorium 
downtown and continued to aggressively take on Mr. Obama, 
accusing him of flip-flopping on energy policy, Iraq and 
the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

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But much of the sparring between the two campaigns on 
Tuesday came over remarks made by a Clinton supporter, 
Geraldine Ferraro, the Democrats' vice presidential 
nominee in 1984, that were published last Friday in The 
Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif. In her comments, Ms. 
Ferraro accused the media of being sexist and said, "If 
Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position." 

Mrs. Clinton disavowed the comments on Tuesday in an 
interview with The Associated Press in Harrisburg. 

"I do not agree with that," she said. "It is regrettable 
that any of our supporters on both sides, because we've 
both had that experience, say things that kind of veer 
off into the personal." 

Mr. Obama told The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., that 
the comments were "divisive" and "patently absurd." 

Mr. Obama entered Tuesday's contest with 1,510.5 delegates, 
compared to 1,403 for Mrs. Clinton, according to a project-
ion by The New York Times. That differential will not 
change significantly after Mississippi, with only 33 
delegates at stake and Mrs. Clinton expected to scoop up 
a good number because they are awarded proportionally. 

Mississippi's primary is open, so voters can choose which 
primary to vote in. 

Voting was steady throughout the day and up to 150,000 
people were expected to show up at the polls, said Pamela 
Weaver, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi secretary of 
state. 

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Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, 
won the primary for his party, bringing him even closer 
by The New York Times's count to the number of delegates 
needed to officially clinch the nomination. 

In the closing days of the primary race, Mrs. Clinton had 
been raising the idea that Democrats struggling to decide 
between the candidates could have it both ways, implying 
that Mr. Obama would make a suitable running mate. Mr. 
Obama aggressively rejected that idea as he campaigned 
in Mississippi on Monday, telling voters: "With all due 
respect, I've won twice as many states as Senator Clinton."

Still, according to preliminary surveys of voters leaving 
the polls, not all voters seemed eager to rule out the 
notion. Six in 10 Obama supporters said that he should 
select Mrs. Clinton for vice president if he ultimately 
wins the nominating fight. And 4 in 10 Clinton voters 
said she should choose Mr. Obama if he she is victorious. 

Anita Nichols, who came to see Mr. Obama on the eve of the 
primary at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, 
said she was delighted that voters in her state had an 
opportunity to be heard in the Democratic presidential 
contest. She said she hoped a convincing Mississippi 
victory would nudge him along in the protracted fight. 

"I'm praying that he wins. I really am," Ms. Nichols said 
in an interview, an Obama button fastened to her lapel. 
"This country is ready for change, but it's not just him. 
The president can only do so much, he's got to surround 
himself with qualified people and the citizens have to 
work, too." 

--------

Jeff Zeleny reported from Mississippi and Katharine Q. 
Seelye from Harrisburg, Pa. 

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