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Clinton assures donors her campaign is on track; Obama criticizes her trade view

Clinton assures donors her campaign is on track; Obama criticizes her trade view

Hillary Rodham Clinton, facing concerns about her faltering candidacy, is seeking to reassure anxious donors by outlining a plan to beat front-runner Barack Obama in must-win Democratic presidential nomination battles next week.
Obama has dominated the party's race for the White House nomination since the Feb. 5 "Super Tuesday" series of contests, sweeping 11 races and capturing the lead in the all-important delegate count. Clinton insisted her campaign is on track and moving forward, despite the losses.
"I am very optimistic and extremely positive about what we're doing as we go forward in these states," Clinton said of the March 4 races in Ohio and Texas on which she has pinned the future of her candidacy.
"I hear with increasing frequency, 'Don't give up, you're going to win,'" she said, speaking at a Boston fundraiser Sunday.
The two states offer a total 334 delegates, and former President Bill Clinton has said publicly his wife probably needs to win both of them if she is to win the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama currently has 1,362 delegates to Clinton's 1,266.5. A total of 2.025 are needed to secure the Democratic nomination at the party's convention in late August in Denver.
Recent polls show the race in Texas to be a statistical dead heat. In Ohio, polls show Clinton with a narrowing lead.
On the Republican side, John McCain's march toward clinching his party's nomination moved ahead Sunday as he swept all 38 nominating convention delegates awarded in U.S. territories over the weekend.
Clinton on Sunday pledged to continue to stress her differences with Obama on issues including universal health care, and said she will step up her criticism of the Illinois senator's lack of experience in public life.
In Ohio, Obama accused Clinton on Sunday of trying to walk away from a long record of support for the North American Free Trade Agreement, the free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada that he said has cost 50,000 jobs in Ohio.
At the same time, he said attempts to repeal the trade deal "would probably result in more job losses than job gains in the United States."
One day after Clinton angrily accused him of distorting her record on NAFTA, as the trade deal is known, in mass mailings, Obama was eager to rekindle the long-distance debate, using passages from the former first lady's book as well as her own words.
"Ten years after NAFTA passed, Senator Clinton said it was good for America," Obama told an audience at a factory that makes wall board, located in a working class community west of Cleveland. "Well, I don't think NAFTA has been good for America _ and I never have."
A spokesman for Clinton, Phil Singer, said the former first lady was critical of NAFTA long before she ran for president.
Singer also said that in 2004 in Illinois, Obama spoke positively of the trade agreement, saying the United States had "benefited enormously" from exports under NAFTA.
The trade agreement has long been unpopular in industrial Midwestern states like Ohio, where critics blame it for lost jobs and shuttered factories, many of which once employed union workers who tend to vote Democratic.
Clinton blamed her woes in part on unfair press coverage but said she believed Obama had come under increased media scrutiny in recent days.
Meanwhile, consumer advocate Ralph Nader announced Sunday that he is launching a third-party campaign for president, criticizing the top White House contenders as being too close to big business. He pledged to "shift the power from the few to the many."
Nader, 73, also ran as a third-party candidate in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. He is still loathed by many Democrats who claim his candidacy in 2000 cost the party the election by siphoning votes away from Al Gore in a razor-thin contest decided by a few hundred votes in Florida.
The Republican race is considered settled in favor of McCain, the veteran Arizona senator and a former Vietnam prisoner of war.
On Sunday, Republican Party members in Puerto Rico awarded all their 20 delegates to McCain. A day earlier, McCain received nine delegates each from American Samoa and the Northern Marianas in the Pacific. He also picked up endorsements from two unpledged delegates elsewhere.
That gives McCain a total of 998 of the 1,191 delegates needed to clinch the nomination at the Republican convention in September in St. Paul, Minnesota. Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, trails with 254 delegates.