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Obama Picks Up Fresh Support in Nomination Battle With Clinton


Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama picked up more support Friday in his battle with rival Hillary Clinton for the party's presidential nomination. Both candidates campaigned in Oregon, which holds a primary on May 20. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has the latest on the U.S. presidential campaign from Washington.

Following his decisive victory in North Carolina on Tuesday and his narrow defeat in Indiana, Barack Obama has been shifting his focus away from Senator Clinton to the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain.

Obama took his campaign to Beaverton, Oregon, on Friday.

"We have a fundamental difference on our priorities for president," he said. "John McCain wants to continue George Bush's war in Iraq, losing thousands of lives and spending hundreds of billions of dollars to fight a war that is not making us safe. I want to end this war. I want to invest that money in America, in our roads and our bridges and our ports and our schools."

Obama campaigned amid fresh signs that he is picking up momentum in his fight with Senator Clinton to nail down the Democratic nomination.

Five more superdelegates announced their support for Obama, including the president of a large labor union and a congressman from New Jersey who had been supporting Senator Clinton.

Obama has now wiped out Clinton's longstanding lead in the number of superdelegate committments. The nearly 800 superdelegates are Democratic officeholders and party activists who are not bound by the results of caucuses and primaries and can vote for either candidate at the convention.

Obama continues to lead in the overall delegate count and most experts give Clinton virtually no chance to catch him by the end of the primary season on June 3.

Obama is favored in the May 20 primary in Oregon, while Clinton is counting on keeping her fleeting hopes alive with strong showings in West Virginia next Tuesday and in Kentucky, which also holds a primary on May 20.

In her campaign stops, Clinton continues to cast herself as a champion of working class Democrats.

"You have to have a president who gets up every day and fights for you, who never gives up on you, who always keeps going for our country," she said. "That is what I will do if I am given the chance to serve as your president."

In another sign of Obama's march toward the Democratic nomination, Republican John McCain increasingly mentions his differences with Obama on the campaign trail.

In New Jersey Friday, McCain was asked to respond to Obama's comments that McCain had lost his bearings and was trying to smear him by repeatedly saying that the Islamic terrorist group Hamas was supporting Obama in his presidential bid.

"It is very obvious to everyone that Senator Obama shares nothing of the values or goals of Hamas, which is a terrorist organization," he said. "But it is also a fact that a spokesperson for Hamas said that he approves of Senator Obama's candidacy. I think that is of interest to the American people, and that is something that needs to be discussed."

McCain also denied a claim by political blogger and commentator Arianna Huffington that he told Huffington that he did not vote for President Bush in the 2000 election.

Huffington says two other guests at the dinner party, both television actors, have confirmed her contention. But McCain told reporters Friday that he voted for the president in 2000 and worked hard to get him elected despite the fact they were opponents in the Republican primaries that year.

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