Campaign Notebook

Obama asks country to come together right now

Hillary Clinton marched in two Saint Patrick's Day parades yesterday in Pennsylvania, including one in Pittsburgh with Dan Onorato (left), Allegheny County's chief executive. Hillary Clinton marched in two Saint Patrick's Day parades yesterday in Pennsylvania, including one in Pittsburgh with Dan Onorato (left), Allegheny County's chief executive. (Carolyn Kaster/associated press)
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March 16, 2008

PLAINFIELD, Ind. - Senator Barack Obama yesterday decried "the forces of division" over race that he said are intruding on the Democratic presidential nomination contest.

"We have to come together," he told a town-hall meeting at a high school.

Obama cited inflammatory remarks made by his pastor that are now being used as political ammunition against him - remarks that Obama has denounced.

"If all I knew were those statements I saw on television, I would be shocked," Obama said.

Obama suggested that more and more is being made of racial divisions as his contest with Senator Hillary Clinton heats up.

"The forces of division have begun to raise their ugly head again," Obama said.

"It reminds me: We've got a tragic history when it comes to race in this country. A lot of pent-up anger and mistrust and bitterness. This country wants to move beyond these kinds of things."

The Illinois senator's comments came a day after he denounced statements appearing on television and on the Internet by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor of the Chicago church Obama joined nearly 20 years ago.

Obama said that pointing out racial differences only makes it harder to "deliver on the big issues we face in this country," which he said include healthcare, the slumping economy, terrorism, and caring better for veterans.

He said schools should do a better job of teaching all students African-American history "because that's part of American history," as well as women's struggle for equality, the history of unions, the role of Hispanics, and other matters that he suggested are not given enough attention.

"I want us to have a broad-based history" taught in schools, he said, including more on "the Holocaust as well as other issues of oppression" around the world.


Clinton hopes voters in Fla. and Michigan will be heard
SCRANTON, Pa. - Hillary Clinton yesterday said she supported an effort by Michigan Democrats to hold a new primary in June.

"It needs to get resolved and hopefully Michigan by the end of this week will have done that," Clinton told reporters on her campaign plane between stops in Pennsylvania. "I think they are moving in an appropriate direction to have a revote."

Under a plan being finalized by several Democratic members of Congress and other party leaders in Michigan, the state would hold a new primary in early June - most likely June 3 - that would allow its delegates to be seated at the party's national convention this summer in Denver.

The Democratic National Committee punished Michigan and Florida for moving up their primaries before Feb. 5, stripping them of all their delegates.

Clinton won the Michigan primary on Jan. 15 and has said she would like those results to stand. But Obama removed his name from the ballot after the DNC stripped the state of delegates for moving up its primary and did not campaign there.

Clinton also won Florida's primary, where both candidates' names were on the ballot but neither campaigned in the state at the request of the DNC.

Obama currently leads Clinton among overall delegates, 1,603 to 1,497, and his campaign has been openly skeptical of Clinton's eagerness to seat the delegations from the two disputed states.

Clinton marched in two Saint Patrick's Day parades yesterday in Pittsburgh and Scranton. In Pittsburgh, she walked the milelong parade route alongside the city's mayor, Luke Ravenstahl; Governor Edward G. Rendell, and Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato.

"Happy Saint Patrick's Day, Pittsburgh. This is a great parade," Clinton shouted. "Let the luck of the Irish be with us all."


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