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US Candidates Appeal to Voters' Wallets Ahead of Next Primary

With primary elections coming up on 6 May in the Midwestern state of Indiana and the southern east coast state of North Carolina, Democratic Party presidential contenders Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are telling voters they have plans to create jobs and cut fuel prices. The presumptive Republican nominee Senator John McCain is also hitting economic issues. Meanwhile, Senator Obama is trying to put as much distance as possible between his campaign and his controversial Chicago minister. VOA's Jeffrey Young has this week's wrap of U.S. political events.

Economic issues are dominating the political discussion in the primary election battleground states of Indiana and North Carolina. Both Democratic presidential candidates are saturating those states with television ads designed to tap into voter's anxieties.

Senator Clinton's ads zero in on Indiana's shrinking industrial sector. "I think this election, particularly here in Indiana, is about jobs, jobs, jobs," says one ad.

Senator Obama aims his pitch in the same direction.

"All across Indiana, and my home state next door [in Illinois], folks know we desperately need change," says Obama. "Gas near four dollars. Jobs leaving. Health care we cannot afford."

Clinton and Obama have put the spotlight directly on the fuel pump.

These days, it costs $50 (U.S.) to fill up the [car fuel] tank," says Clinton's ad. "How can Indiana families afford that? Hillary Clinton knows it is time to act."

In his ad, Barack Obama promises to reign in the big oil companies. "They [oil companies] will pay a penalty on windfall profits. We will invest in alternative energy, create jobs, and free ourselves from foreign oil," says Obama.

In his appearances, Senator McCain has focused on another worry, health care.

"We want a system of health care in which everyone can afford and acquire the treatment and preventative care they need," McCain says.

Meanwhile, recent statements by Senator Obama's pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, have caused more trouble for the Democratic senator. Reverend Wright said terror attacks on the U.S., even the September 11th attacks, were a response to U.S. government policies.

Senator Obama is trying to stop the controversy surrounding his longtime association with the reverend. Obama says he has had enough of Reverend Wright.

"They [Wright's claims] offend me," said Obama. "They rightly offend all Americans, and they should be denounced. And, that is what I am doing very clearly and unequivocally here today."

Political pundits say Reverend Wright's remarks could negatively affect voters essential to Obama if he is to gain the Democratic nomination and take on Republican John McCain in the November election.