Sweet column: Clinton, Obama California targets. Independents banned from GOP primary can vote in Dem contest, giving Obama an edge.

SHARE Sweet column: Clinton, Obama California targets. Independents banned from GOP primary can vote in Dem contest, giving Obama an edge.

LOS ANGELES — California is a sprawling political battleground and to make inroads in this diverse state in the last weekend before Tuesday’s primary here, the Obama and Clinton campaigns are targeting women, Hispanics, African Americans and young voters.

This afternoon Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy and Michelle Obama stump for Barack Obama at the University of California, Los Angeles, while Bill Clinton appears at four churches in black communities in the area this morning.

Winfrey joins Caroline Kennedy and Obama’s wife as Clinton’s campaign is depending on female voters here. Conversely, the former president is working turf that is fertile territory for Obama.

Obama’s campaign touted the endorsement of La Opinion, the nation’s largest Spanish-language paper on Saturday — the paper cited his support for driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants — while Hillary Clinton held a rally at the California State University-Los Angeles campus aimed at Hispanics.

Introduced by Sally Field, Brad Whitford (of “The West Wing”), basketball’s Magic Johnson and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, among others, Clinton invoked the names of Robert F. Kennedy and legendary farm union organizer Cesar Chavez. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign announced RFK’s widow, Ethel, was backing the Illinois senator.

Clinton sharpened a major thrust for her, differences with Obama over health insurance. “My opponent will not commit to universal health care,” she said to boos from the audience. “I do not believe we should nominate any Democrat who will not proudly stand here today, tomorrow, and the next day and say universal health care is the goal.”

At issue is Obama’s plan to drive down the cost of health insurance so more people will buy a policy; Clinton proposes mandating coverage.

The Golden State has 370 delegates up for grabs — the most of any state. Early balloting started Jan. 7 and almost half the anticipated ballots have been cast. Obama, who does better with independents, may have an edge here in that independents can vote in the Democratic primary on Tuesday while Republicans must be pre-registered.

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