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Obama eyes general election while Clinton hangs on PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Reuters, Portland, Oregon - Democrat Barack Obama turned his attention to a general election campaign against Republican John McCain on Sunday, slamming him for having lobbyists as top advisers.

Obama has still not formally won the Democratic presidential nomination. His rival, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, kept working to overtake him, urging supporters in Kentucky, which holds its primary contest on Tuesday, to show up at the polls.

Obama, an Illinois senator, drew his biggest crowd to date in Portland, estimated by a fire and rescue official at 75,000 people. Oregon also votes on Tuesday.

"Over the last several weeks John McCain keeps on having problems with his top advisors being lobbyists, in some cases for foreign governments or other big interests that are doing business in Washington," Obama said.

Former Texas Rep. Thomas Loeffler, McCain's national finance co-chairman, resigned his post because of lobbying ties, a McCain campaign official confirmed. He was the fifth person to leave the campaign over concern about links to lobbying.

"The McCain campaign has recently put a strict policy in place and all personnel are required to be in compliance with it. Many fine people may have a conflict that is not reconcilable," said McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds.

Obama praised Clinton, but spoke of her in the past tense in another sign he has shifted focus past the primary season.

"She has been a formidable candidate. She has been smart and tough and determined and she has worked as hard as she can," Obama said of the former first lady. "She has run an extraordinary campaign."

CLINTON KEEPS GOING

The New York senator started her day by attending church and then headed off to "Get Out the Vote" rallies.

"It's not enough to show up and cheer," she told a crowd at Western Kentucky University. "You've got to get out and vote. You've got to bring everybody you can find to vote."

Obama holds a commanding lead in the pledged delegates to this summer's party convention that will pick a candidate to run against McCain, an Arizona senator.

While Clinton was expected to win handily in Kentucky, Obama was ahead in the polls in Oregon, leaving only three more primaries before the party voting ends on June 3.

Obama planned to be in Iowa on Tuesday to celebrate in the state where he scored his first victory in January.

"We thought it was a terrific way to kind of bring things full circle. We still have some contests left, but if Kentucky and Oregon go as we hope, then we think we will have a majority of pledged delegates at that point, and that's a pretty significant mark," he told reporters.

All polls are closed in Kentucky at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) and Oregon at 8 p.m. PDT/11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT). Results are expected shortly after.

Clinton indicated she was going to keep going. "It's not going to be easy and it doesn't happen by wishing and hoping for it. It happens by rolling up our sleeves and getting to work," she said in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

"You don't tell some states that they can't vote and other states that have already had the opportunity that they're somehow more important," she said. "I don't believe that."

Even with five primaries to go and the issue of Florida and Michigan's disputed delegates still to be decided, Democrats were starting to focus on preparing for the November election.

The Washington Post reported that financial backers of both Obama and Clinton have begun private talks, including a dinner in Washington last week, to discuss the two campaigns working together after June 3.

Speculation continued over the vice presidential picks for both parties with former Democratic New York Gov. Mario Cuomo again advocating an Obama-Clinton ticket.

Former Republican Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the last major challenger to McCain before he bowed out, had been mentioned as a possible McCain running mate. But last week he made an insensitive remark about aiming a gun at Obama.

Huckabee apologized but was asked on Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" whether he would help McCain if he was on the ticket. "I don't know," Huckabee said. "He is the only one that can know that."

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