Candidates campaign ahead of primaries

February 4, 2008 3:23:35 PM PST
The presidential campaigns and the candidates collectively collapsed for a few hours Sunday night because even a red-hot presidential race cannot compete with the mother of all happenings: the Super Bowl.

Barack Obama raced home to watch the game with his family in their Hyde Park home after another day of campaigning.

Obama received a surprise endorsement Sunday from another Kennedy family member: Maria Shriver, who happens to be the wife of California's Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is backing the GOP frontrunner John McCain.

The endorsement came on a day when the candidates themselves were criss-crossing the country, including a stop in Illinois.

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert welcomed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to a rally in west suburban Glen Ellyn Sunday where Romney made a bold prediction:

"You know, we're going to win on Tuesday," Romney said.

But, that is not what the latest polls in Illinois and around the country indicate. They show Romney trailing GOP frontrunner John McCain by as much as two-to-one.

The day began with Romney on a television talk show. He infuriated Mike Huckabee by calling on the former Arkansas governor, who is running third in the polls, to drop out of the race so there is only one conservative to go up against McCain. In Romney's opinion, McCain is too liberal for the Republican party.

"To conservative voices, they're saying 'We cannot let our party take that left turn if we become so much like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that on key issues we're indistinguishable, we won't win the White House," said Romney.

On the Democratic side, supporters of Hillary Clinton were making phone calls Sunday in advance of Tuesday's primary in Illinois, while the candidate herself was campaigning in Midwestern states.

Clinton claimed ABC Sunday morning that she is better prepared than Barack Obama to survive the inevitable Republican attacks that will lead up to the November election.

"I have been through these Republican attacks over and over again, and I believe I have demonstrated that much to the dismay of the Republicans, I not only can survive but thrive," Clinton said.

One of Obama's political mentors, Senate President Emil Jones, is one of the surrogates who was campaigning for his former Springfield colleague in Chicago Sunday.

"We've got this well qualified and articulate young man," said Ill. Senate Pres. Emil Jones Obama Supporter.

Obama talked to another standing-room-only crowd in Delaware Sunday. A star-studded trio of powerful women supporters, Caroline Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey, and Michelle Obama, highlighted a rally in Los Angeles Sunday afternoon. This, while Obama received an endorsement from Maria Shriver.

"I really believe these are all good people," Shriver told those attending a rally.

California is the biggest state and the richest delegate prize for the Democrats. It appears to be a toss-up between Obama and Clinton.

According to the latest poll, Obama has eliminated nearly all of Clinton's 17-point lead as recently as a week ago. The Illinois senator certainly has a lot of momentum, no one is predicting how super Tuesday comes out, except to say it will be close.

On the GOP side, it appears McCain is positioned to win most of the states, close in on the nomination, and virtually finish off challengers Romney, Huckabee and Ron Paul.