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Obama, Clinton heading back to Indiana

April 22, 2008 4:41:48 PM PDT
Barack Obama's decision to spend primary night in the next battleground state, Indiana, instead of Pennsylvania, says loud and clear that he is not expecting to finish off Hillary Clinton by winning the Keystone State and that he'll be trying to seal the deal once more two weeks from Tuesday in Indiana, where the demographics and the geography are a bit more favorable and where Hoosier voters, who generally have no clout in these primaries are finally getting ready for a race that means something. Clinton's volunteers were making get-out-the-vote calls to Pennsylvania. But in a couple of hours, they will be shifting gears and going head to head with the Obama folks down the street. Evansville, a former economic powerhouse in southern Indiana, like so much of the heartland, is now a struggling mid-sized city, gets ready for the Hoosier primary in two weeks.

"Everyone's very excited. The closer it gets, the more excited it gets, the more volunteers we have," said Melissa Garrett, Clinton supporter.

"I just feel very comfortable with her," said one of the new Clinton volunteers, retired Evansville resident Cliff Lauderdale.

Municipal worker Danny Gasaway is leaning toward Obama and waiting to hear what the Democratic frontrunner said Tuesday night in Evansville to seal the deal.

"The country needs a person of courage and integrity. And he is the candidate," said Lucy Watson, Obama supporter.

The candidates and their surrogates have made a lot of appearances in Indiana, and they've been running TV ads. But they will be seeing even more of the Hoosier State in the next two weeks leading up to the primary May 6.

"It's wonderful that the first time in four decades, Indiana is really going to be important in this presidential election, and we're just fired up and we're very proud," said Evansville resident Suzanne Thurman.

They will be seeing a well fed Obama in Evansville after a big breakfast that neither he nor wife Michelle could finish in Pittsburgh, and the king of calories and carbs - a Philly cheesesteak for lunch in the city it's named after.

"I ate every bite. And then somebody had to help me get out of my chair," Obama said.

Obama's finally starting to understand that sushi, tofu and white wine, which are basic food groups in Hyde Park, don't really resonate in the rest of America, where people eat and drink very differently. It may mean he packs on a few more pounds, but more importantly, a few more votes, which is what he needs.

In Evansville Tuesday night, rocker John Melloncamp will be the opening act. He is going to be performing for Clinton in Indianapolis Wednesday. There's been no endorsement from Mellencamp. He was first and foremost a John Edwards guy.

Clinton is scheduled to visit Bloomington, Gary and East Chicago on Friday before traveling to Fort Wayne and South Bend on Saturday, her campaign said.

Obama will follow his rally Tuesday in Evansville with a town hall meeting Wednesday at Indiana University-Southeast in New Albany, his campaign announced.

Clinton and Obama could spend the bulk of their time in Indiana, where polls have shown a tight race, even though it shares the primary date with North Carolina, because Obama is expected to win that state by a wide margin.

Obama's Evansville appearance will be his first in the state's third-largest city, although his wife, Michelle, spoke there last week and will attend Tuesday's rally. Hillary Clinton held a rally in Evansville on March 28 and former President Bill Clinton visited the nearby town of Boonville on April 10.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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