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Obama Seeks to Re-Focus Presidential Campaign

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama sought to regain his political footing Wednesday in the U.S. presidential campaign, one day after denouncing his controversial former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone is following the campaign from Washington.

Senator Obama and his Democratic rival, Senator Hillary Clinton, both campaigned in the Midwest state of Indiana Wednesday. Indiana and North Carolina hold presidential primaries next Tuesday.

Obama is looking to refocus his presidential campaign on the domestic economy and other issues after several days of controversy involving his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Obama strongly denounced Wright on Tuesday, saying he was outraged by what he called Wright's appalling and divisive comments on a host of issues over the years.

During a campaign appearance Wednesday, one voter asked Obama if it was difficult for him to criticize his friend and pastor of 20 years.

"The situation with Reverend Wright was difficult," Obama said. "I will not lie to you. We want to get back to talking about you. This campaign is not about me. It is not about John McCain. It is not about Hillary Clinton. It is about you, and your struggles and your dreams."

Obama's rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Clinton, was asked about the Wright controversy at a campaign event in Indiana. But Clinton chose instead to talk about the economy and the need to ease rising fuel prices.

"At the turn of the last century, Teddy Roosevelt took on the oil companies," Clinton said. "We need a president who is going to take on the oil companies again, and I will do that. I will take away their tax subsidies. They do not need them to make these outrageous profits. We are also going to get tough on OPEC. I am tired of OPEC setting the price and determining how much supply there is."

Tuesday's primary in Indiana now looms as a major contest in the hard-fought battle for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Recent polls show Obama and Clinton running about even in Indiana, while Obama remains ahead in North Carolina, which also holds a primary on Tuesday.

Obama supporters are looking for a victory in Indiana to blunt Clinton's momentum after recent victories in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.

Obama, however, continues to lead in the overall delegate count.

Political analysts say Tuesday's primary should give some indication as to whether Obama has been badly hurt by the controversy surrounding Reverend Wright.

Meanwhile, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, has largely avoided commenting on the Democratic race this week and is focused on presenting his plan to improve the nation's health care system.