Obama, Clinton campaign ahead of primaries

"Obviously, we've had to fight through, over the last week, an awful lot of noise," said Obama.

Obama's trying to bounce back from the controversy over his outspoken former pastor, Jeremiah Wright Jr., which is prompting one in five voters to rethink their opinion of the Democratic frontrunner, including Sharon Byers of Valparaiso. She says she was planning to vote for Obama next Tuesday. But now she may not unless he answers one nagging question.

"I want to ask Obama, how can you sit under a man's ministry for 20 years and not know his thoughts on these things?" said Byers.

"I think if Sharon had gone to that church she would have seen a wonderful church community and a pastor who would preach a great sermon, the kind of deplorable remarks that were the subject of controversy here, those aren't what we heard in church," Obama said. The dueling Democrats are stepping on the gas- literally, as they accelerate toward Tuesday's showdowns in North Carolina, where Barack Obama has an almost comfortable lead over Hillary Clinton, and in Indiana, where the candidates are in a dead heat, according in the latest poll.

Obama and Clinton also are stepping on the gasoline price issue, which is turning out to be one of the only divisive policy disputes of their campaigns.

Both Democratic candidates spent Friday talking about the one issue on every voter's mind: the high cost of gasoline. However, they do not agree on what to do about the problem. Senator Clinton is calling for a gasoline tax holiday. Senator Obama disagrees with that idea, adding that the country needs a more long-term solution.

The Democratic frontrunner Obama was almost back home again in northwest Indiana Friday while visiting a steel factory in Munster, which is less than an hour from Chicago. He continued to hammer Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's plan to suspend the federal gasoline tax over the summer.

"It's a shell game, literally. This is not a real solution. It's a political stunt," Obama said.

According to Obama's new, hard-hitting ad, the tax holiday would only save drivers 30 cents each day, if the oil companies do not raise their prices, and it would jeopardize thousands of jobs because the tax revenue pays for infrastructure repairs.

That's why some Clinton supporters are opposed to the tax holiday.

"We have to relief, but we have to have our infrastructure in place, too. I'm a Hillary supporter, but I say Obama's right on this issue," Munster resident Kathy Graves said.

Clinton says the lost revenues can be made up by imposing a windfall profits tax on the oil companies.

"They have record profits that they, frankly, are just sitting there counting because they're not doing anything new to earn it. They're just taking advantage of what's going on," said Senator Clinton.

"Even if we could pass a windfall profits tax, I'm in favor of a windfall profits tax, there's no guarantee the oil companies would pass on the savings to consumers," Obama told ABC7 Chicago's Andy Shaw.

Obama says the Illinois General Assembly approved a gas tax holiday when he was a state senator, and he voted for it, but lawmakers had to repeal it a few months later because the oil companies did not pass on the savings to drivers.

For the record, most of the energy experts around the country side with Obama over Clinton on the gas tax holiday issue.

Obama, by the way, says the past two weeks have been extremely difficult as he tried to deal with the controversy and the political fallout over his outspoken former pastor.

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