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Obama Solidifying Lead in U.S. Pres. Race

Posted February. 28, 2008 03:15,   


U.S. Democratic presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton clashed in a TV debate Tuesday over the party nomination at Cleveland State University.

It was their final face-to-face encounter before next week’s “Mini-Super Tuesday,” in which primaries will be held simultaneously in four states including Ohio and Texas.

The debate might have been the last for Clinton, who suffered defeats in the previous 11 primaries and caucuses.

In the opening minutes of the debate, Clinton blasted Obama for spreading misinformation about her policies. She said his campaign has conducted a negative campaign for the past few days, adding her rival misrepresented her position on health care.

Clinton said Obama is distorting the fact as if her health care plan forces the underprivileged to buy insurance, thus leaving them without coverage.

On NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement), Clinton remained inconsistent. Apparently conscious of Ohio, which lost a lot of jobs to Mexico due to the pact, she said that if Canada and Mexico do not agree to renegotiate the agreement, she will seriously consider having the United States drop out of the accord.

Earlier in Texas, however, Clinton urged a more cautious approach to NAFTA’s achievements, apparently taking into consideration the large number of Hispanic voters in the state.

Obama has taken the lead over Clinton in Texas, 49 percent to 45 percent, after Clinton had led only a few weeks ago. He also looked comfortable and relaxed, seemingly encouraged by polls showing he trails Clinton by a mere six percentage points in Ohio.

He also denied Clinton’s allegation of a negative campaign against her.

Obama said the photo of him wearing traditional Somali robes was distributed by the Clinton camp. But he said he believes Clinton when she said she did not know where the photo had come from.

MSNBC, which broadcast the debate live, conducted an online survey right after the program. Among 86,000 respondents, 65 percent said they thought Obama won the debate, while 22 percent said the opposite.

According to a nationwide poll conducted by USA Today last week, Obama leads Clinton by 12 percentage points among Democrats and independents. This is the first time he has gained more than the majority vote in a nationwide poll.

On Tuesday, Obama won the endorsement of a former rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, dealing another blow to Clinton, who had sought Dodd’s support.