Hillary Clinton tries new tack in battle of Pennsylvania

April 2nd, 2008 - 11:50 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 2 (IANS) As a new poll showed Barack Obama catching up with Hillary Clinton in the battle of Pennsylvania, the former first lady accused her rival presidential hopeful’s campaign of trying to disenfranchise Democrats. “There are some folks saying we ought to stop these elections,” she said in a satellite interview with a television station in Montana as a SurveyUSA poll showed Obama gaining ground in the Keystone State that holds the next presidential primary April 22.

If the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania were held April 1, Clinton would defeat Obama by 12 percentage points, according to the poll. But compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll released three weeks ago, Clinton is down two points and Obama is up five, with Clinton’s previous 19-point lead cut to 12, the survey found.

The movement in support came almost entirely from men, according to the survey results. Clinton had led by five points but now trails by seven among men - a 12-point swing to Obama.

Among women, Clinton’s lead remains largely unchanged. Among voters 50 and older, Clinton had led by 26 points and now leads by 22. Among voters under 50, Clinton had led by 12 points but now leads by two, a 10-point swing to Obama.

The survey concluded that there is also movement to Obama from conservative and anti-abortion Democrats. However, Clinton continues to dominate among voters focussed on the economy, the No. 1 issue, and healthcare, considered the No. 3 issue, according to the survey.

Amidst growing calls for her to quit the race in favour of party frontrunner Obama and avoid a divisive campaign, Clinton, who hopes to be America’s first woman president, said in her TV interview: “The more people that have a chance to vote, the better it is for our democracy.

“My take on it is a lot of Senator Obama’s supporters want to end this race because they don’t want people to keep voting,” she said. “That’s just the opposite of what I believe. We want people to vote. I want the people of Montana to vote, don’t you?”

It is a growing theme in Clinton’s stump speech as she makes her way through upcoming primary states: that she alone, up against rival forces aiming to silence the millions of voters in the 10 remaining primary and caucus states, will stand up for their right to vote.

In an interview with a Pennsylvania radio station Tuesday, Obama again denied that his campaign was pushing for Clinton to step aside.

“I’ve said for the last three days that I think that Senator Clinton should stay in the race as long as she wants,” Obama told KDKA radio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “She has every right to compete and I’m looking forward to competing against her.”

But the argument has been a guaranteed applause line for Clinton from supporters in small towns in Pennsylvania and Indiana, and in cities like Louisville, Kentucky, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina - places that normally have little say in the presidential nominating process.

Clinton began using variations of the line as pundits began to openly speculate about the mathematical impossibility of her winning the Democratic nomination. Clinton trails Obama among pledged delegates, as well in the popular vote tally.

But after Senators Chris Dodd and Patrick Leahy - both supporters of Obama -stated late last week that Clinton should step aside for the sake of party unity, she amplified her rhetoric, accusing Obama supporters of actively trying to prevent voters from heading to the polls.

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