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Obama wins North Carolina, Clinton bags Indiana

Latest update : 2008-05-07

Barack Obama won the North Carolina primary with a comfortable lead, while his rival Hillary Clinton won Indiana with a narrow margin, according to US media reports. FRANCE 24's Guillaume Meyer reports.

Barack Obama took a big stride towards the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday with a comfortable victory over Hillary Clinton in North Carolina, while the New York senator narrowly won in Indiana.


"This fall we intend to march forward as one Democratic Party united by a common vision for this country,” an exuberant Obama told supporters, “because we all agree that at this defining moment in our history - a moment when we're facing two wars, an economy in turmoil, a planet in peril - we can't afford to give John McCain the chance to serve out (President) George Bush's third term."


With 134 delegates up for grabs in North Carolina and 84 in Indiana, North Carolina was the big prize of the night, one that an exuberant Obama recognised in a victory speech delivered from his campaign headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina.


“Tonight we stand less than 200 delegates away from securing the Democratic nomination for the president of the United States,” he told a gathering of jubilant supporters in a victory speech delivered from his campaign headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina.


Defiantly, Hillary Clinton vowed "full speed" ahead to the White House, but was fast running out of time and options after failing to cripple Barack Obama in their latest primary clash. “Clinton’s disappointment was such that Clinton cancelled all the meetings she had planned for this morning. She thinks there is little she can do despite her Indiana win,” reports FRANCE 24’s Emmanuel Saint Martin from Indianapolis. According to him, Clinton is scheduled to meet some of the Demorcatic Party’s “superdelegates” Wednesday to see if she can still go on.


Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee denied these allegations, saying: "There is no crisis meeting with superdelegates…. This is just another day of meetings with superdelegates as part of our normal outreach," he said.


As neither candidate has scored enough votes so far to eliminate their rival, the remaining 270-odd “superdelegates” now hold the key to the party’s nomination. These party elders have yet to declare their hand.


But Ginny Power, Newsweek correspondent in Paris, told FRANCE 24 that many people in the US believe the Clinton-Obama race should now come to an end. “While Clinton is hoping to get the superdelegates, she is some 250 delegates behind Obama and people are now saying it’s time to move on and unify the party for upcoming elections.”   

Righting the Wright affair

Obama’s North Carolina victory extended his lead over Clinton, enabling him to cross a critical hurdle toward securing his party’s presidential nomination. It also marked a recovery for the Illinois senator, who battled through two punishing weeks in the lead-up to Tuesday’s primaries as he tried to distance himself from his former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s controversial “God damn America” remarks.


Reporting from Clinton’s headquarters in Indianapolis, FRANCE 24’s Guillaume Meyer said North Carolina was a critical victory for Obama. “It’s a big prize for Barack Obama,” he said. “It was no surprise of course, he was already ahead in the polls. But it is a big win and it’s one he needed after spending the last two weeks trying to defend himself and distance himself from his former pastor.”


Going into Tuesday’s primaries, Obama was on the defensive following the Wright fracas.


With polls showing the damage wrecked by Wright's fallout, the Illinois senator spent the weekend distancing himself from the cleric who married the Obamas and baptized their daughters.


During a weekend interview on the US NBC News television network, Obama was asked if he would seek Wright’s advice if elected. The Illinois senator replied with a categorical, “Absolutely not.”


The Wright fracas was reopened when the clergyman broke his silence in late April only to repeat his controversial claims that Sept. 11 attacks were a retribution for US foreign policy and the US government helped spread AIDS to harm blacks.

A gas tax holiday ‘dead on arrival’

For her part, Clinton has also had to bear the fallout of her infamous April 22 Iran remark, when the New York senator said she would “totally obliterate” Iran if Tehran launched a nuclear attack on Israel.


Days later, Iran strongly protested the remark in a letter to the UN Security Council, calling it “provocative, unwarranted and irresponsible.”


In interviews over the weekend, Clinton defended her statement. But she steered clear from using the term “obliterate”.


Clinton was also forced to defend her pledge for a gas tax cut during the summer to give Americans a break from rising fuel prices, a move Obama dismissed as “gimmickry.”


Like most experts, McDonald dismissed Clinton’s gas tax holiday as unfeasible. “Her package is dead on arrival in (Washington) DC,” he said. “This is purely political grandstanding. You could call it pandering. But unfortunately sometimes that’s what elections are about.”


Date created : 2008-05-07