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Obama Wins N.C. and Clinton Takes Indiana

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THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - May 8, 2008
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Obama Wins North Carolina Decisively; 
Clinton Takes Indiana by Slim Margin
By Jeff Zeleny
The New York Times

Senator Barack Obama won a commanding victory in the North 
Carolina primary on Tuesday and lost narrowly to Senator 
Hillary Rodham Clinton in Indiana, an outcome that injected 
a boost of momentum to Mr. Obama's candidacy as the 
Democratic nominating contest entered its final month. 

The results from the two primaries, the largest remaining 
Democratic ones, assured that Mr. Obama would widen his 
lead in pledged delegates over Mrs. Clinton, providing him 
with new ammunition as he seeks to persuade Democratic 
leaders to coalesce around his campaign. He also increased 
his lead in the popular vote in winning North Carolina by 
more than 200,000 votes. 

"Don't ever forget that we have a choice in this country," 
Mr. Obama said in an address in Raleigh, N.C., that carried 
the unity themes of a convention speech. "We can choose not 
to be divided; that we can choose not to be afraid; that 
we can still choose this moment to finally come together 
and solve the problems we've talked about all those other 
years in all those other elections." 

In winning North Carolina by 14 percentage points, Mr. 
Obama - whose campaign had been embattled by controversy 
over the incendiary remarks of his former pastor - recorded 
his first primary victory in nearly two months. His 
campaign was preparing to open a new front in his battle 
with Mrs. Clinton, intensifying the argument to uncommitted 
Democratic superdelegates that he weathered a storm and 
that the time was dawning for the party to concentrate on 
the general election. 

But as Mrs. Clinton addressed her supporters at a rally in 
Indianapolis on Tuesday evening, it was clear the fight was 
not over. In the first three minutes of her address, she 
asked supporters to contribute money, saying, "Tonight, I 
need your help to continue this journey." 

Clinton advisers acknowledged that the results of the 
primaries were far less than they had hoped, and said they 
were likely to face new pleas even from some of their own 
supporters for her to quit the race. They said they 
expected fund-raising to become even harder; one adviser 
said the campaign was essentially broke, and several others 
refused to say whether Mrs. Clinton had lent the campaign 
money from her personal account to keep it afloat. 

The advisers said they were dispirited over the loss in 
North Carolina, after her campaign - now working off a 
shoestring budget as spending outpaces fund-raising - 
decided to allocate millions of dollars and full days of 
the candidate and her husband in the state. Even with her 
investment, Mr. Obama outspent Mrs. Clinton in both states.

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For several hours, incomplete results from Lake County in 
Indiana - home to the city of Gary, just across the state 
line from Chicago - left the statewide tally in doubt. The 
delay meant that Mrs. Clinton did not appear on television 
until well after Mr. Obama, allowing him to put his stamp 
of victory on the evening. 

With six primaries remaining on the Democratic calendar, 
the fight between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton now turns to 
Washington. The Obama campaign was poised to present a new 
cache of superdelegates - the party officials who may have 
to settle the nominating fight - as early as Wednesday to 
press its case that the results from Tuesday are reason 
enough to back his candidacy and end the torturous 
nominating fight. 

In his speech earlier in the evening, Mr. Obama, of 
Illinois, congratulated Mrs. Clinton "for what appears to 
be her victory in the great state of Indiana." Then, he 
used his televised forum to deliver a speech highlighting 
how he was likely to come under attack. In doing so, he 
made an argument for his viability in a general election, 
which his rivals believe has been damaged because of his 
association with his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. 
Wright Jr.. 

"Yes, we know what's coming; I'm not naive," Mr. Obama 
said, adding, "The attempts to play on our fears and 
exploit our differences, to turn us against each other 
for political gain, to slice and dice this country into 
red states and blue states; blue-collar and white-collar; 
white, black, brown; young, old; rich, poor." 

"This is the race we expect" regardless of who is the 
Democratic nominee, he went on. "The question, then, is 
not what kind of campaign they will run; it's what kind 
of campaign we will run." 

Democrats said they expect to see more superdelegates flow 
to Mr. Obama in the next few days, including perhaps some 
now aligned with Mrs. Clinton. 

Senator Claire McCaskill, an Obama supporter from Missouri, 
called the results "a big, big night" for Mr. Obama given 
the Wright episode. "This shows he can take major blows 
and kind of rise above it," Ms. McCaskill said. "I think 
there was a sense that she has some momentum, and I think 
it has just ground to a screeching halt tonight." 

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Despite Mrs. Clinton's performance, she pledged to take her 
campaign to West Virginia, Kentucky and the other states 
remaining on the primary calendar. And the campaign has 
been pushing the cause of seating disputed delegates from 
Florida and Michigan, states that were penalized for 
holding primaries before party rules allowed. 

"You know it seems, it would be a little strange to have 
a nominee chosen by 48 states," she told her supporters 
in Indianapolis. "We've got a long road ahead, but were 
going to keep fighting on that path because America is 
worth fighting for." 

The Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National 
Committee will convene on May 31 to settle the issue of 
whether to seat the delegates from those two states. 

Going forward, both candidates intend to spend time in 
Washington, courting superdelegates and party officials. 

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, an Obama supporter, said 
the candidate accomplished what he needed to by outperform-
ing expectations in both states and showing that Mr. Wright 
was not driving off voters en masse. "The next question 
will be what happens with the undecided superdelegates," 
Mr. Nelson said. "Will they begin to come his way? I don't 
see anything to suggest they should start going her way." 

In North Carolina, Mr. Obama's performance was bolstered by 
a strong black vote. He captured more than 90 percent of 
those voters in that state, where blacks accounted for one 
in three voters. But over all, Mrs. Clinton continued to 
draw strong support among whites, particularly older women. 

The voting in Indiana and North Carolina came at the 
conclusion of an acrimonious two-week campaign that found 
Mr. Obama on the defensive over incendiary remarks by 
Mr. Wright. Yet there was little evidence either argument 
caused significant shifts in electoral patterns of previous 
states, with most Clinton voters saying the Wright episode 
affected their vote and Obama backers saying it had not. 

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Once again, Mrs. Clinton drew most of her support from 
women and older voters. Mr. Obama held onto his mainstays 
of support - blacks, young voters and liberals - and made 
small gains in Indiana with lower-income white voters who 
have eluded him in the past. 

In both states, the candidates' final arguments centered 
on a summertime suspension of the federal gasoline tax, 
which Mrs. Clinton proposed as an economic lift for voters 
and Mr. Obama derided as a political gimmick. 

At this stage in the nominating fight, most voters seemed 
to have settled on their preferences before the battle 
intensified. Only a quarter of voters in Indiana decided 
whom to support in the last week, and a majority backed 
Mrs. Clinton, while one in five voters in North Carolina 
also decided late, and most of them backed Mr. Obama. 

The country's economic condition was listed as the chief 
concern of the Democratic primary voters. About 9 in 10 
voters in Indiana and 8 in 10 voters in North Carolina 
said the economic slowdown had affected their family at 
least somewhat. 

At least three in five voters in both states said the 
economy was the most important problem facing the country, 
according to surveys of voters leaving polling places that 
were conducted in both states by Edison/Mitofsky for the 
television networks and The Associated Press. 

In Indiana, about 8 in 10 voters were white and about 
15 percent were black. Six in 10 of the whites voted 
for Mrs. Clinton; about 9 in 10 blacks favored Mr. Obama. 

--------

Reporting was contributed by Patrick Healy, Carl Hulse, 
Dalia Sussman and Megan Thee. 

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