Obama, Clinton make Pennsylvania push

By: AP
By: AP

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama pushed into each other's strongholds Friday as the long Pennsylvania primary race entered its final weekend, with both trying to pick off every vote they can get.

Obama shook hands at a bolt factory and beer bottling company in Erie, the type of white, working class, economically depressed area that has supported the former first lady. Clinton campaigned for Hispanics in Philadelphia, a largely black city expected to go for Obama, before heading out to the more competitive suburbs.

"I'm very happy Pennsylvania gets the right to vote," Clinton said. Few had predicted the Pennsylvania primary, coming so late, would count for as much as it does in the surprisingly extended campaign.

Pennsylvania holds its primary Tuesday - the Democrats' first contest in seven weeks. That's the longest they've gone between contests since voting began at the beginning of the year.

Clinton is favored to win the state. But with the contest so tight, both candidates are looking to build their vote totals toward a final victory. Obama leads Clinton in overall delegates, 1,645-1,505, but neither is close to achieving the 2,025 needed to win the nomination. Obama also has a thin lead in the popular vote that Clinton would like to overturn before the final ballots are cast in June.

One of Clinton's supporters, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, said Friday that Clinton needs a big win in Pennsylvania if she hopes to overtake Obama. A loss in the Keystone state would be "pretty much a door closer," Corzine said.

Another Clinton supporter encouraged her to challenge Obama all the way to the convention.

"I think I also speak for more than 1,500 delegates who want you to go to the convention and to fight for your right to represent our country as president of the United States," Luis Cortez said as he introduced Clinton to speak at Esperanza High School, the Philadelphia charter academy that he heads.

Clinton spoke about her education agenda, while Obama highlighted his economic plan. Both tried to connect with voters on a personal level, too.

Clinton told one audience she loves movies but has only gotten to see two since declaring her candidacy. An aide revealed that one was a Christmas Day viewing of the fairy-tale romance "Enchanted" with her husband. Obama, not a big drinker, extolled America's favorite alcoholic beverage to a crowd standing outside the Erie Beer Co. as he emerged from the bolt plant.

"The steel was interesting, but beer!" Obama exclaimed. Told Bud Light was a top seller, he replied, "We like beer."

Later, at Radnor Senior High School in the Philadelphia suburbs, Clinton took issue with Obama's complaints about the questioning at their debate Wednesday in Philadelphia.

"Having been in the White House for eight years and seeing what happens in terms of the pressures and the stresses on a president, that was nothing," she said. "I'm with Harry Truman on this - if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Just speaking for myself, I am very comfortable in the kitchen."

Obama spokesman Bill Burton replied by pointing out that after another debate in Ohio, Clinton complained that she always got asked the first question.

"Her blatant hypocrisy here is stunning," Burton said.

Clinton saw another of her husband's former Cabinet members defect on Friday. Robert Reich, who served as Bill Clinton's secretary of labor, endorsed Obama, becoming the fifth former Clinton Cabinet member to tilt his way.

Obama, looking past Tuesday's primary, pinged GOP nominee-in-waiting John McCain for comments he made in a television interview saying there had been "great progress economically" during George W. Bush's presidency.

"Only somebody who's spent two decades in Washington could make a statement as disconnected from the hard times people are facing all across America," Obama said.

In an e-mail statement, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said that Obama had taken the Arizona senator's remarks out of context. Bounds noted McCain went on to say that the economic improvements of the Bush administration were "no comfort to families now that are facing these tremendous economic challenges."

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AP Writer Beth Fouhy contributed to this report.

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On the Net:

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