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Primary Results Move Obama Closer to Democratic Nomination


Illinois Senator Barack Obama took a giant step toward securing the Democratic Party's presidential nomination Tuesday with a decisive win in the North Carolina primary and a close second place finish in Indiana. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone reports that pressure is expected to mount on rival Hillary Clinton in the days to come to abandon her presidential campaign and rally behind Obama as the eventual Democratic nominee.

Barack Obama reasserted political momentum with his victory in North Carolina, and Hillary Clinton now appears to be running out of time and money in her bid to stop his march to the Democratic nomination.

In his victory speech, Obama focused less on Clinton and more on what kind of campaign he would run against the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain.

"We are the party of [Thomas] Jefferson and [Andrew] Jackson, of [Franklin] Roosevelt and [John] Kennedy, and that we are at our best when we lead with principle, when we lead with conviction, when we summon an entire nation to a common purpose and a higher purpose," he said.

Clinton vowed to compete in upcoming primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky and made another appeal for money for her campaign, which she has been funding recently out of her own pocket.

But Clinton also repeated her vow that she will support Obama if he becomes the Democratic nominee.

"No matter what happens, I will work for the nominee of the Democratic Party, because we must win in November!"

Obama added to his lead in the delegate count and total popular vote on Tuesday. And even though Clinton has vowed to fight on, most experts see little chance for her to win the Democratic nomination at this late stage in the primary process.

Larry Sabato directs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

"The race is approaching its logical conclusion and barring some massive development that no one foresees, Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee for president," he explained.

Clinton's only remaining hope is to convince enough uncommitted superdelegates that she would be a stronger nominee against Republican John McCain in November.

Superdelegates are Democratic officeholders and party activists who can support any candidate they want regardless of caucus and primary results in their states.

About 500 of the nearly 800 superdelegates have already declared their support for one of the two candidates, and the rest remain uncommitted. Neither candidate can win enough delegates in the remaining primaries to claim the nomination outright, so superdelegates will provide the margin of victory for the eventual nominee.

Many experts now expect more superdelegates will flock to Obama in the wake of Tuesday's primaries.

Bill Beaman is editor in chief of Politics magazine, formerly known as Campaign and Elections.

Beaman says most superdelegates would be reluctant to deny Obama the nomination given that he is on track to win more delegates and popular votes than Clinton.

"You have to remember that most superdelegates are elected officials," he explaine.d "They have constituencies they need to worry about, and some 20 to 25 percent of the Democratic base is the African-American vote. What it would do to African-American support, in my view, to take the nomination at this stage from Barack Obama is something that superdelegates would not even want to venture to find out."

Beaman and other experts predict Democrats will unite behind Obama once the primaries draw to a close in early June.

Despite Obama's strong showings in both North Carolina and Indiana Tuesday, voter exit surveys suggest he will have to do a better job of appealing to working class white voters if he is to defeat John McCain in November.

Once again, expert Larry Sabato.

"There are a number of pitfalls along the way, not least his demonstrated lack of appeal to downscale whites and conservative Democrats, and he is going to have to work hard to solve those problems before he can win a general election," he noted.

Also of concern to Obama is the fact that about half the voters in both North Carolina and Indiana said the controversy involving his former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, was an important issue in their vote.

Six more Democratic contests remain before the primary season ends on June 3. The Democrats hold their national nominating convention in late August, while the Republicans convene theirs the first week in September.

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