Final day of campaigning before Ind., N.C. primaries

May 5, 2008 8:46:49 PM PDT
Voters in Indiana and North Carolina have an important decision to make as they head to the polls Tuesday to vote for Senator Barack Obama or Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. On Monday, Obama and Clinton were making a final campaign push before what could be a critical Election Day.

You might think northwest Indiana is safe Obama territory, but a poll in the local paper Monday gives Clinton a 13-point lead over Obama in Lake and Porter counties going into the primaries.

Michelle Obama addressed a Gary crowd Monday night, trying to give her husband a boost and make up for lost ground.

"Tomorrow is important. It is critical. And Indiana, thank goodness it begins here with you all. And we're counting you," she said.

With his wife up in northwest Indiana, Democratic frontrunner Obama was in Indianapolis Monday night, another major metropolitan area, where he's expected to do well in the primary. But it is the rural parts of Indiana, like much of the country, filled with working-class voters where he faces an uphill battle.

"I've offered a permanent tax cut of $1,000 per working family, so people can offset rising gas prices and rising food prices," Obama said.

The race has tightened in Indiana and North Carolina in recent weeks. The Reverend Wright controversy has taken a toll. But Monday at a factory in Durham, North Carolina, obama said he survived it with his reputation intact.

Clinton needs at least one primary victory to sustain the momentum she regained in Pennsylvania.

"As of today, Bill, Chelsea and I have made 100 stops in Indiana, and we have relished every single one of them. It's been 40 years since Indiana had a chance to help pick the next president of the United States of America, and this is your time, Indiana," said Clinton.

Earlier Monday, the Democratic frontrunner Obama continued his uphill battle for Indiana's blue collar vote at two stops in Evansville.

The latest pre-election polls have Clinton leading Obama by an average of four percentage points in the Hoosier State. Obama's up by an average of nine points in North Carolina.

One of Clinton's main supporters, James Carville, said recently that she has to win both states Tuesday to "shake up" the race and knock Obama off the frontrunner's perch. And both candidates were asked about that on "Good Morning America" Monday.

"Well, I never make predictions. We're working hard in both. We started out so far behind and clearly have made up some ground. But you never know until people vote," said Clinton.

"I don't intend to lose, so I don't speculate," said Obama.

Seventy-two delegates are at stake in Indiana. North Carolina has 115.

Embattled frontrunner Barack Obama bluntly told an Indiana crowd Sunday, "I need your help." Hillary Clinton told a cheering audience in Fort Wayne, "This is the final push."

Obama hopes that wins Tuesday might stop the bleeding from a difficult campaign stretch.

He's zeroing in on a Clinton threat to "totally obliterate" Iran if it attacked Israel and on her call for a summer "holiday" from the federal gas tax. Obama says the Iran threat amounts to Bush-style "bluster and saber rattling." And he dismisses the gas-tax idea as a gimmick that would just help Big Oil.

Defending her earlier Iran comment, Clinton says she doesn't think Iran would attack Israel, but wants to make the consequences "abundantly clear."

No matter what happens Tuesday, both candidates say they'll press on.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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