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Obama blasts Republicans on economy, ignores Clinton ahead of key races in Texas and Ohio

Obama blasts Republicans on economy, ignores Clinton ahead of key races in Texas and Ohio

Barack Obama blasted the economic policies of Republicans, largely ignoring his Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton in an apparent bid to position himself as the party's nominee even though the race is still unsettled.
But, Clinton showed strong signs of life going into key races next week with her best fundraising month ever. The US$35 million (euro23 million) she raised in February represents a remarkable recovery for her campaign to be the first woman president of the United States.
Obama's campaign reacted promptly on Thursday, promising an even higher number, but divulging no totals.
Fundraising totals help a candidate campaign aggressively, but are also a reflection of a candidate's popularity. Obama has stunned observers with the vast amount of money he has garnered even without the established campaign infrastructure of his more experienced rival.
Buoyed by a string of 11 wins since Feb. 5 in the Democratic nomination battle, Obama, a first-term senator who is vying to be the first U.S. black president, appeared confident that he could shut out Clinton for the time being as they look forward to key races in Texas and Ohio on March 4.
He launched an offensive on President George W. Bush and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, mocking the seemingly optimistic economic picture painted by Bush at a White House news conference.
"We are not standing on the brink of recession because of forces beyond our control," Obama told a town hall forum in Austin, Texas. "This was not an inevitable part of the business cycle. It was a failure of leadership in Washington _ a Washington where George Bush hands out billions of tax cuts to the wealthiest few for eight long years, and John McCain promises to make those same tax cuts permanent, embracing the central principle of the Bush economic program."
Bush had earlier said that the U.S. is not headed into a recession. While expressing concern about slowing economic growth, the Republican president rejected for now any additional stimulus efforts.
The economy has become the dominant theme in the election, so far, eclipsing the Iraq war as Americans grow increasingly wary about recession risks. All the candidates have put forward plans.
In return for his criticism, Obama was the focus of Republican jabs that tried to present him as naive on foreign affairs. In thinly veiled comments, Bush slammed Obama's willingness to meet the leaders of Iran and Cuba. That came a day after McCain had mocked Obama over comments he made about al-Qaida in Iraq.
Despite Clinton's increased fundraising, Obama is still outspending her in Ohio and Texas. The former first lady has pinned her candidacy on those states to keep her struggling campaign afloat as a new national poll shows her trailing Obama.
As of Tuesday, Obama had spent a total of $7.5 million (euro5 million) in advertising in the two states. Clinton had spent $4.6 million (euro3 million).
February was an astounding fundraising month for the Democrats. At the current rate, both candidates would break records for contestants in a primary fight.
Clinton has been struggling to recover from weak fundraising in January. She raised nearly $14 million (euro9.3 million) in January to Obama's $36 million (euro23.8 million).
In a sign of his strength in the race, Obama leads Clinton 49 percent to 40 percent according to a national poll released Thursday. The results, which showed only a third of Clinton's supporters believe she will secure the nomination, are a marked contrast to the lead she held in similar polls just three weeks ago.
In November presidential election matchups, the Research Center poll, which had an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, Obama tops McCain by 7 percentage points, while Clinton leads by 5 points. The poll was conducted from Feb. 20-24.
Clinton, on Thursday, unveiled her own set of economic proposals _ this time targeted at halving over the next 12 years the number of children living in poverty and alleviating childhood hunger. The proposal would particularly benefit minorities, a key group she needs in order to salvage her faltering presidential bid.
Earlier, campaigning in a rural area of Ohio where the poverty rate approaches 20 percent, she stressed her health care plan that insures all Americans and again accused Obama of misrepresenting her policies while saying his proposal would leave out 15 million people.
Clinton has argued that she, unlike Obama, has the experience to fix America's various woes, from poverty and job losses to foreign policy challenges. Obama has responded by accusing the her of being a Washington insider while arguing that Americans need change _ the theme of his campaign.
Later Thursday, Clinton went to Houston, where she spelled out her ambitious energy plan to polite applause from about 1,000 people attending a business conference.
Texas and Ohio, along with smaller races in Rhode Island and Vermont, offer a total of 370 delegates for the Democrats.
In Texas, early voting in urban areas being targeted by Obama has swelled to record numbers, outpacing the otherwise high turnout in areas of the state viewed as more favorable to Clinton. That could imperil her chances there, even as a large percentage of Democrats in Clinton's targeted areas have also cast early ballots.
Her strategy there is to accrue smaller delegate numbers over broader areas of the state, with the hope of topping Obama, overall.
Texas, with 193 delegates, is the third-largest contest in the country and has some advantages for Clinton with its large Hispanic population and voters being more familiar with her. Of those delegates, 65 percent will come from the primary, and 35 percent from the caucus.
Former President Bill Clinton warned voters Wednesday that his wife could beat Obama at the polls, only to have victory snatched away later at the caucuses.
"A lot of people think Hillary will win in the day time and her opponent will come in the night and take back the votes she won," he said.
Obama currently has 1,378 delegates to Clinton's 1,276. A total of 2,025 are needed to secure the Democratic nomination at the party's convention in late August.
The Republican race is considered settled in favor of McCain, a senator and former Vietnam prisoner of war. He has a total of 1,014 of the 1,191 delegates needed to clinch the nomination at the Republican convention in September. Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, trails with 257 delegates.
On Thursday, McCain was dismissing questions about his eligibility because of a constitutional provision that the president must be a "natural-born citizen." McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, which is no longer a U.S. territory but was when he was born in 1936.
He pointed to the 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater, who was born in Arizona before it became a state.
McCain added that he doesn't know why his campaign sought legal analysis of whether his birthplace would be affect his eligibility.
"It's very clear that (the idea that) an American born in a territory of the United States whose father is serving in the military would not be eligible for the presidency of the United States is certainly not something our founding fathers envisioned," McCain said. His father was stationed in the Canal Zone by the Navy at the time of his birth.
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Associated Press writers Tom Raum in Austin, Texas; Mike Glover in Hanging Rock, Ohio; Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington; and Libby Quaid in Richardson, Texas, contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-08-04 19:52 GMT+08:00