Obama, Clinton Gear Up for Mississippi Primary
Now it is Mississippi's turn in the spotlight.
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is hoping a win in Mississippi will help end the momentum Clinton received after victories in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island on March 4. But, the Clinton campaign is fighting for every delegate it can get.
Polls show Obama with a clear lead, but Clinton is running ads in Mississippi to instill doubts about Obama.
Former President Bill Clinton is helping her make her case at town hall meetings and fish fries. He stuck to the campaign's essential script: his wife has the experience, and Obama does not.
"This idea that there is a conflict between experience and change is just bull," Bill Clinton said.
But, in a state that has a sizable African-American population, it would be fair to say that some voters see things in black-and-white.
University of Mississippi political science professor John Bruce says Obama's candidacy has drawn many black voters to his side.
"The point about Mississippi that sometimes people don't appreciate is how much race is still salient," Bruce said.
Obama's candidacy may also be affecting the way some whites are planning to vote, Bruce said. "It's huge in both ways. It's a huge motivating factor for some African-Americans voters, and it's a huge motivating factor for some whites, but perhaps in the other way."
The feeling was always that the battle for the nomination would have been over long before it reached Mississippi, and many Mississippi voters do not know much about who Obama is. At a Bill Clinton event in Meridian on Saturday, voters such as Laura Walley and Rebecca Pitts said they find the Illinois Senator lacking.
"Obama is really a good candidate, but he hasn't shown me clarification of the vital issues. I just don't know where he is coming from," Walley said.
Pitts added that she is not supporting Clinton just because she is a woman. "I never heard of this man til now, and this lady here is the truth of it. She has run the country once before, and she can probably do it again."
But 90 miles away in Jackson, the state capital, it is a different story.
Professor Isaiah Madison says that while he and others were disappointed that Obama may have lost some of his momentum, they remain confident in his potential.
"Look at his campaign, and look at her campaign," Madison says. "This man is a leader, and he doesn't have to do everything. He doesn't have to micromanage. He is able to generate in people a profound commitment to the common cause."
Many Mississippi voters remain dismayed at what they called dishonest and hurtful statements that the Clintons have made about Obama. The thought of Clinton, who is currently trailing Obama in delegates, offering the vice presidential nomination to Obama is preposterous, according to voter Edna Harris.
"I don't think that would work because they already slinging mud," she said. "How can they trust each other? How can they work together?"
As the candidates have said themselves, there has to be a nominee before there is a ticket.
And before there is a nominee, there is the Mississippi primary — and its 33 delegates at stake.
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