Obama wins Mississippi primary, on to PennsylvaniaMarch 12th, 2008 - 10:53 am ICT by admin
Washington, March 12 (DPA) Barack Obama won handily in the Democratic presidential primary in Mississippi over rival Hillary Clinton, and both campaigns have already turned their attention to next month’s crucial primary in the eastern state of Pennsylvania. Senator Obama led the vote count in the southern Gulf state Tuesday, which is still reeling from the effects of 2004’s Hurricane Katrina, by 59 percent to Clinton’s 39 percent with more than 80 percent of precincts reporting.
Obama, 46, and Senator Clinton, 60, have been locked in a tight battle for the Democratic nomination. Pennsylvania, the largest state left in the remaining handful of contests, will vote April 22.
In Mississippi, 33 of the 2,025 delegates needed to be named the party’s candidate were up for grabs. With the two candidates running neck and neck, Clinton campaigned heavily in Mississippi over the weekend despite Obama’s strong lead in state opinion polls.
“It’s just another win in our column,” Obama told CNN about an hour after polls in the state closed. “I’m grateful to the people of Mississippi for their wonderful support.”
Clinton did not comment after the Mississippi result. Her campaign manager Maggie Williams issued a statement congratulating Obama and said Clinton was “looking forward to moving on to Pennsylvania to campaign there”.
The former first lady lags behind Obama in the delegate count needed to secure the nomination at the party’s convention in Denver in August by 127 delegates. Before Mississippi, Clinton had 1,470 delegates compared to Obama’s 1,597, according to a CNN estimate.
Republican Senator John McCain sealed his grip on his party’s nomination last week and stood unopposed in Tuesday’s Mississippi primary. He has turned his sights to raising money for his campaign and uniting the Republican Party behind his candidacy.
After a hectic campaign season, the Democratic candidates will have six weeks to regroup before the vote in delegate-rich Pennsylvania. Polls show Clinton, who has family roots in the state, with an average lead of about 12 percentage points.
With the tone of the candidates and their surrogates taking on an increasingly nasty, personal tone over the past few weeks, some Democrats have expressed concern that a protracted battle could hurt the party’s chances against McCain in the Nov 4 general election.
One of Obama’s top policy advisors, Samantha Power, was forced to resign from the campaign last week after calling Clinton “a monster” in an interview with The Scotsman newspaper.
This week it was a Clinton surrogate in the firing line after former Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro suggested that Obama, who is vying to be the first African American president, was winning on account of his race.
Ferraro, a chief fundraiser and advisor to Clinton, told the Daily Breeze newspaper of Torrance, California, that “if Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position” of leading the nomination battle.
“And if he was a woman of any colour, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept,” she said.
Obama told CNN Tuesday that his campaign has tried to remain above the fray, and accused Clinton of taking a more personal approach.
“We’ve been very measured in terms of how we talk about Senator Clinton,” Obama said. “I’m not sure that we’ve been getting that same approach from the Clinton campaign.”
After Pennsylvania, only seven Democratic contests are left. But with the Obama and Clinton race so close, there is pressure for repeat voting in two of the country’s largest states - Florida and Michigan - whose primary results were dismissed by the national party because they disobeyed directives not to hold their contests in January.
Under Democratic rules, delegates are assigned proportional to the vote, meaning a candidate can lose the majority vote but still get a sizeable number of delegates.
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