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    Obama, targeting McCain, shifts to full US election mode

    AFP
    19.05.2008 - 10:32 | Son Güncelleme:

    Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama is bidding this week to reach a symbolically potent milestone in his nominating battle with Hillary Clinton and take the fight to Republican John McCain.

    When Kentucky and Oregon hold their primaries on Tuesday, the Illinois senator expects to clinch a majority of elected Democratic delegates and put another nail in the coffin of Clintons own presidential dream.

     

    Obama is not planning to spend the election night in either state, heading instead to Iowa -- the scene of his triumph in the years debut Democratic contest -- before spending the rest of the week in Florida.

     

    And in recent days, the politician bidding to be Americas first black president has already been looking past his long and bruising nominating contest with Clinton by going on the offensive against McCain.

     

    On Sunday, during a stop in Oregon, Obama fought on the election battleground of pensions as he accused the presumptive Republican nominee of planning to jeopardize Social Security benefits through privatization.

     

    "Let me be clear: privatizing Social Security was a bad idea when (President) George W. Bush proposed it. Its a bad idea today," Obama said. "But in George Bush and John McCain’s Washington, the message to the middle class is: you’re on your own," he said, proposing to raise taxes for higher earners to guarantee future pension payments.

     

    The McCain campaign responded: "With his lack of experience, it should be no surprise that Barack Obama’s response to the problems facing Social Security is to raise Social Security taxes, while making misinformed partisan attacks."

     

    Polls show Obama leading in Oregon, where 52 delegates are up for grabs. Clinton is ahead in Kentucky, a state with 51 delegates and a similar demographic to West Virginia, where she won by a landslide last week.

     

    Obama’s campaign says he needs just 17 more pledged delegates -- won through state contests -- to reach a majority of 1,627.

     

    While that would represent a watershed in the Democratic race, that does not count "super delegates," party leaders who can vote for the nominee of their choice.

     

    Including super delegates, the winning nomination line is 2,025. According to RealClearPolitics.com, Obama has 1,897 delegates in total to Clintons 1,717.

     

    On Saturday night Obama predicted that victory in the liberal state of Oregon would "put us over the top" in terms of pledged delegates.

     

    Clinton, however, is vowing to battle on until the end of the primary season. After Tuesday, there will be just three Democratic contests left -- Puerto Rico on June 1, and Montana and South Dakota on June 3.

     

    "There is no standard under which Senator Obama will have secured the nomination on Tuesday night," Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said, pressing anew for disputed delegates from Florida and Michigan to be counted.

     

    But according to a Washington Post report Sunday, some fundraisers for Obama and Clinton are tentatively joining forces to adopt a general election footing against McCain. The newspaper quoted Mark Aronchick, a Philadelphia lawyer and top fundraiser for Clinton, as saying her supporters recognized the need to start preparing for Novembers presidential vote.

     

    "Only if we do this right, and see this through in the right way, will there be a chance for a full, rapid and largely complete unification of the party," Aronchick said, while insisting he was not giving up on Clinton.

     

    Some analysts are asserting there is no path to victory for the New York senator in 2008.

     

    "The problem is, the math doesn’t add up. No matter how you do this, this race is fundamentally over," Democratic strategist Bob Shrum told NBC television. "She’s not going to be the Democratic nominee for president. Barack Obama is. And we need to go into a process of healing," he said.

     

    As attention switched to the campaign for November, talk about vice presidential nominees intensified.

     

    Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, having failed in his own bid for the Republican nomination, said he wanted to run as McCain’s number two.

     

    Senator Jim Webb, a highly decorated Marine veteran, is being touted to give national-security heft to the relatively inexperienced Obama. Webb’s state of Virginia would also be a big prize for the Democrats to capture in November.

     

    But the Democrat, a navy secretary in Ronald Reagan’s Republican administration of the 1980s, told NBC: "At this point, no ones asking, no ones talking, and I’m not that interested."

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