3/12/08 Can. Press 00:00:00
_ Democrat Barack Obama expressed frustration Wednesday
that racial issues keep rising to the top of his presidential
battle with Hillary Clinton , but he said the great majority
of voters will base their decisions on substantive issues.
At a news conference in Chicago, Obama said he feels his primary
victories in an array of states have proven he can draw support from
all races and regions, and that he isn't overly reliant on black
``We keep on thinking we've dispelled this,'' he said. ``And it
keeps on getting raised once again.''
He said critics suggest ``maybe he hasn't proven that he can win
white blue-collar workers.''
``And we won that in Virginia, and we won it in Wisconsin,'' he
In each new primary, he said, ``we seem to have to prove this
stuff all over.'' Given his wins, he said, ``at this point, we
should have put to rest this notion that somehow I am a candidate
that's just focused on one demographic.''
In handily winning the Mississippi primary on Tuesday, Obama took
about 90 per cent of the black vote and 30 per cent of the white
vote, according to exit polls.
Similar results in other Deep South states have raised questions
of whether Obama's strong black support is nudging some white
Democrats into Clinton's column.
There was some evidence of that in exit polls in Ohio, which
Clinton won. Analysts say a similar pattern could emerge in
Pennsylvania, the next primary, on April 22.
Obama said he didn't think the Clinton campaign was
deliberately stirring racial divisions.
He said, however: ``I do think that the Clinton campaign has
talked more during the course of the last few months about what
groups are supporting her and what groups are supporting me, and
trying to make the case that the reason she should be the nominee is
there are a set of voters that Obama might not get.
``That seems to track certain racial demographics. And I disagree
Obama said some voters might favour or disfavour him because he
is black, just as some might favour or disfavour Clinton because
However, he said, ``the overwhelming majority of Americans are
going to make these decisions based on who they think will be the
``I have absolute confidence that if I'm doing my job, if I'm
delivering my message, then there are very few voters out there that
I can't win.''
``If I'm not winning them over,'' he said, ``then it's my
The Illinois senator opened the event flanked by nine retired
military officers who said he's fully capable of being commander in
chief, a response to Clinton's suggestions that he's unready and
Retired Air Force Gen. Tony McPeak praised Obama for opposing a
``dumb war'' in Iraq. He said Obama has the steady temperament a
leader needs, and called him ``No-Shock Barack, No-Drama Obama.''
At the 45-minute session with reporters at the Chicago Museum of
History, Obama couched his criticisms of Clinton in fairly gentle
He gently mocked her suggestion that he cannot win large states
that will be key battlegrounds in November.
He noted he won the Democratic primaries in Wisconsin, Missouri,
Colorado, Iowa and Virginia, all of which should be fiercely
contested this fall against Republican John McCain.
As for Clinton's victories in California and New York, Obama said
any Democratic nominee, including himself, should win those states