Today on the Presidential Campaign Trail
IN THE HEADLINES
Obama looking for two out of three in weeks ahead, hopes Indiana breaks his way ... Bill Clinton, in former mill town, says manufacturing can return ... Bush hosts barbecue for big Republican donors, raising $3.5 million
Obama counting on Indiana
MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - Barack Obama sees himself with a disadvantage in Pennsylvania and with an advantage in North Carolina.
"So Indiana may end up being the tiebreaker," he said this week.
As he completes a four-day tour of the Hoosier state, that's the Illinois senator's assessment of the Democratic presidential contests in the coming three weeks.
For Obama, that's a tough call. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has single digit leads in the state, according to recent polls. She has the support of the state's popular Democratic senator, Evan Bayh. And the state has a sizable number of blue collar industrial workers, a demographic group that has leaned in her favor.
But Obama is from neighboring Illinois, and is well-known in the Indiana counties around Lake Michigan that have access to Chicago's media market. He also has the support of two respected former members of Congress from Indiana - Lee Hamilton and Tim Roemer.
Pennsylvania holds its primary April 22. Indiana and North Carolina hold theirs two weeks later. A two-out-of-three outcome in favor of the Illinois senator at the end of that stretch may not drive Clinton out of the race, but it will permit Obama to argue that after primary losses in Texas and Ohio, he can win an industrial state.
Bill Clinton: Manufacturing can return
ROANOKE RAPIDS, N.C. (AP) - Former President Bill Clinton, campaigning in a former mill town struggling with job losses, said Friday the United States can bring back the manufacturing industry - as long as the nation can enforce trade laws.
"We can bring manufacturing back to America now," Clinton said on an outdoor stage, with the now-closed mill that was featured in the 1979 Sally Field movie "Norma Rae" looming behind him. "But we have to have a commitment."
Clinton did not mention the North American Free Trade Agreement during the campaign event for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. The NAFTA trade pact was adopted while Bill Clinton was in office, but Hillary Clinton has repeatedly said she wants to change it.
Many have blamed NAFTA for accelerating the decline of North Carolina's once-vibrant manufacturing sector.
The former J.P. Stevens plant that served as Clinton's backdrop was the South's first major unionized textile mill, and the inspiration for "Norma Rae." The movie won Field her first Academy Award for her portrayal of a minimum-wage textile worker-turned-union organizer.
Textile mills once provided 5,000 jobs in Roanoke Rapids, but the last mill closed several years ago.
Hillary Clinton has criticized NAFTA while campaigning for blue-collar votes in North Carolina and elsewhere.
Bush raises cash for GOP
CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) - President Bush thanked some of the Republican Party's biggest spenders Texas-style on Friday, honoring them with a barbecue supper at a ranch next to his.
Bush has headlined this event benefiting the national Republican Party each year at the Broken Spoke Ranch. The 478-acre spread next to Bush's own ranch in this tiny Central Texas town is owned by Stan and Kathy Hickey.
This year, it drew 500 of the GOP's biggest donors from across the country and was dumping $3.5 million into the Republican National Committee's coffers.
It also served as a special treat and a goodbye of sorts for Bush. Since it is his last year to host the fundraiser, his parents, former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, flew in for it. So did his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba. The fundraiser, usually a casual lunch, also was upgraded this year to an evening affair.
Bush spent nearly three hours on the sprawling property, an unusually long investment of time for him. For nearly all that period he posed for photos with guests, but he also made brief remarks and took questions from the group.
The event did not include the party's presumed presidential nominee, John McCain. The Arizona senator was in Texas on Friday - albeit 350 miles to the west in Lubbock and scheduled to travel to his home state in the afternoon. Many of the guests at the Bush event had been at a McCain fundraiser Thursday night in Dallas.
Bush is spending four days at his ranch, largely because of this event.
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama campaign in Indiana.
John McCain has no scheduled public events.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"I just want the power to decide who will be president and I'm going to Philly to help exercise that." - Comedian Stephen Colbert, whose program "The Colbert Report" will begin a week of broadcasts in Philadelphia ahead of the crucial Democratic Pennsylvania primary.
STAT OF THE DAY:
According to a recent Associated Press-Ipsos national poll, Barack Obama now leads Hillary Rodham Clinton among self-described moderate Democrats, 51 percent to 35 percent. In February, they were 45 percent Clinton, 40 percent Obama.
Compiled by Ann Sanner and Ronald Powers.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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