Clinton to Obama: You haven’t won yet

DEMOCRATIC Senator Hillary Clinton yesterday said her opponent Barack Obama may be getting a little ahead of himself in acting like the party’s nominee before the final contests of the primary season are over.

Clinton and Obama are still set to face off in several more primaries, including two in Kentucky and Oregon today, but Obama has been increasingly portraying himself as the nominee already facing Republican John McCain. Obama has scheduled appearances later this week in Iowa and Florida as he looks ahead to the swing states in the general election.

“You can declare yourself anything, but if you don’t have the votes, it doesn’t matter,” Clinton said yesterday.

The former first lady trails Obama in the delegate count by such a margin that it is mathematically unlikely for her to overtake him in the remaining primaries, which end on June 3 with Montana and South Dakota.

But both candidates have been angling to win over the party leaders and elected officials known as superdelegates, whose support will likely determine the nominee. Clinton has been making her case to the superdelegates by casting herself as the more tested and experienced Democrat with a better chance of beating McCain in November.

She said yesterday that she is the “more progressive candidate” and dismissed the hype surrounding Obama that results in the large crowds like the record rally of an estimated 75,000 he drew in Portland, Oregon, over the weekend.

Clinton said Obama, who has refused to debate her since they last faced off just before the Pennsylvania primary last month, would “rather just talk to giant crowds than have questions asked”. Later, while speaking to several hundred people in a high school gymnasium, Clinton picked up her campaign’s argument that Obama’s victories in states that had caucuses instead of primaries are somehow less significant because turnout was lower.

Clinton also revived her pitch that many of the states where he has beaten her, like Alaska, Idaho, and Utah, matter less because they would not be competitive for Democrats in November.

Anybody “who’s really analysing this” should come to the same conclusions, she said. “So I’m going to make my case and I’m going to make it until we have a nominee, but we’re not going to have one today and we’re not going to have one tomorrow and we’re not going to have one the next day,” said Clinton. “And if Kentucky turns out tomorrow, I will be closer to that nomination because of you.” Meanwhile, Obama yesterday told political foes to “lay off my wife” amid signs she could be a target for Republicans in a general election campaign.

The Illinois senator spoke out following the airing of a campaign advert by the Tennessee Republican Party, which used a remark Michelle Obama made earlier this year to question her patriotism. “If they think that they’re going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful, because that I find unacceptable, the notion that you start attacking my wife or my family,” Obama told ABC television. “These folks should lay off my wife.”

Obama said his wife was the most honest person he knew, and “loves this country”, and described the advert as “low class”. The campaign advert, posted on YouTube, repeatedly featured a remark by Michelle Obama that “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country”.

It juxtaposes her comment with a video of Americans from various states, relating why they are “proud” of the United States. Michelle Obama said in the interview that she believed Americans would not be diverted by the kind of campaign tactics featured in the advert.

“We’re trusting that the American voters are ready to talk about the issues and not talking about the things that have nothing to do with making people’s lives better,” she said.

Only five nominating contests remain and Obama, and Republican presumptive nominee John McCain are increasing their attacks on one another in anticipation of a possible general election showdown.


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