PHILADELPHIA, PA.No matter the outcome of the Pennsylvania Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at a press availability in Pittsburgh said he does not expect Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to fold.
You know, I have come to the conclusion that this race will continue until the last primary or caucus vote is cast, Obama said.
Obama seemed surprised to hear that that former President Bill Clinton said during a radio interview that the Obama camp–when it came to his comments about comparing Obama’s win in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson’s win there–somehow used the race card against him.
“Hold on a second. So former President Clinton dismissed my victory in South Carolina as being similar to Jesse Jackson, and he’s suggesting that somehow I had something to do with it?” Obama said Tuesday morning.
On President Carter meeting with Hamas leaders (Carter has spent several days in Damascus, Syria talking to Hamas about ending the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflicts), Obama said he did not agree with Carter that some deal is in the works.
As I said before I think it was a bad idea for President Carter to meet with Hamas without having recognized Israel or denounced terrorism or acknowledged previous agreements given that they are not heads of state, Obama said.
To sit down with them, I think it gave them a legitimacy that was unnecessary. And in fact what we are seeing now that even as president carter suggests that there was a breakthrough you had some of the same old rhetoric come out of Hamas representatives with regard to Israel.
And if Clinton beats Obama in Pennsylvania, Obama said it does not show that he cant win big states. (Illinois is the only big state win). When I am the nominee, (Pennsylvania Gov.) Ed Rendell is going to be working for me just as hard as he has been working for Senator Clinton.
Barack Obama Press Avail
Pamela’s P & G Diner
April 22, 2008
Q and A:
Q: Are you going to win today?
BO: We feel good about the organization that we put together, we think we made enormous progress. As I said before it is an uphill battle. Senator Clinton had a twenty point lead to start with and we think we have closed it but we still I think have to consider ourselves the underdog. A lot of it I think will depend on turnout, it is a beautiful day. We think we have the best organization on the ground, so who knows.
Q: If it is close can you make a case to super delegates that you can win in these kinds of states and that you can get white working class votes.
BO: Well look I think we can win no matter what the results. The polling shows that we can win no matter what the results. When I am the nominee, ed Rendell is going to be working for me just as hard as he has been working for Senator Clinton. There is going to be a clear contrast between the economic message between the democrats and the republicans. This whole notion that somehow because there are some voters, whether it is older voters or blue collar voters who prefer Senator Clinton over me that that means I cant get their vote, that just isnt born out by the polling and it is not born out by the history of the peoples voting patterns. The party is going to come together after the nomination is settled.
Q: Bill Clinton said today I think they played the race card on me, we now know from memos from the campaign that they planned to do it all along. He is talking about the Jesse Jackson comment that he made it was in a radio interview
BO: I have no idea what you are talking about. What was he talking about.
BO: so hold on a second. So former president Clinton dismissed my victory in South Carolina as being similar to Jesse Jackson and he is suggesting that somehow I had something to do with it. Ok well you better ask him what he meant by that. I have no idea what he meant. These are words that came out of his mouth, not out of mine.
Q: Were there campaign memos or plan that suggested playing the race card on him?
BO: Was there a plan to get him to say that my campaign was like Jesse Jacksons. I dont know what he was referring to unfortunately.
Q: the money disparity between your situation and the Clinton campaigns. What do you think it says about the different style of operations?
BO: We are very proud to the non traditional approach we have taken to fundraising. When you have a million and 300,000 donors or a million and a half donors who have been giving 25 dollars a month or fifty dollars a month, they are in the position to sustain a campaign a lot longer than somebody that a smaller group of donors who are given 2,300. And I think that bodes well for our ability to compete in November.
Q: Senator can I get your reaction to Jimmy Carters report yesterday of the breakthrough in his meetings with Hamas?
BO: As I said before I think it was a bad idea for President Carter to meet with Hamas without having recognized Israel or denounced terrorism or acknowledged previous agreements given that they are not heads of state. To sit down with them, I think it gave them a legitimacy that was unnecessary. And in fact what we are seeing now that even as president carter suggests that there was a breakthrough you had some of the same old rhetoric come out of Hamas representatives with regard to Israel. I think it is very important for the United States to actively engage in helping bringing about negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis and I think that President Abbas has indicated his willingness to make every effort to sit down with Prime Minister Olmert. I think thats where our energy should go. If we strengthen Hamas, if we are clear in improving the day to day lives of Palestinians then I think that wil do more than anything to encourage Hamas to renounce violence rather than simply sitting down with them.
Q: Whats your final feeling on Pennsylvania? You think you have a chance of taking it?
BO: You know I always think we have a chance and as I said, weve closed a big gap. We were down 20. SO this was always an uphill climb. But you know what we feel is that weve made significant progress. Weve got a great organization. A lot of its gonna depend on turnout today and its really hard to gauge. Youve got over 200,000 new registrants. DO they all come out to vote? If they all come out to vote, they are not being polled and we dont know which way they are going to break so weve got a chance.
BO: Absolutely. We were glad to find some undecided voters here. I think weve gotten some. Before I answer this question, these really were maybe the best pancakes that Ive tasted in a very long time. If you guys have time, get some take out. You dont even need syrup on them. Theyve got this crispy edges. They are just outstanding. Ya they are really good.
Q: Senator the other day you said that even john McCain would be better than George W. Bush. Did you in effect undercut or weaken the Democrats argument that John MCCain is the same as George Bush by suggesting that all three of you would be better?
BO: Oh no. you know, I know that conventional, text book politics means that unless you completely demonize the other side then you are showing weakness. I dont believe that. I think Senator Clintons suggesting that she and John McCain are the two people who are qualified to be commadner-in-chief is probably something that could end up coming back to haunt us in November. I think to say that John McCain and some of his instincts may be better than George Bushs, thats a low bar. And what I also said in the same breath was that his ideas, what hes offering are warmed over versions of Bush foreign policy and economic policy. So theres no contradiction there. You know, but Ive said repeatedly that I think john McCain is a genuine hero and a decent person. I just think hes got it wrong in terms of where we need to take the country.
Q: If you win today, is the race over?
BO: You know, I have come to the conclusion that this race will continue until the last primary or caucus vote is cast. And thats not that far away. And in the mean time, what were doing is making sure that every single voter in America has a chance to participate in the primaries and the bright side of that is were seeing record turnouts, record involvement. Were building organizations that are getting tested. Should I end up being the nominee the work that weve done here in Pennsylvania I think will be extraordinarily helpful in the general election.
Q: Will success tonight be defined by the spread?
BO: You know, Im gonna let you guys sort out all that stuff. I mean, what I know is that going into this, six weeks ago, you know the Clinton campaign suggested that they were unbeatable and I think the strategy they were talking about was that they could overcome out delegate lead and our popular vote lead and the number of states that we have won by winning big in Pennsylvania and future contests and if you take a look at how the delegates play themselves out. At the end of the night, you should be able to measure, given how many contests are left, whether they can make up that ground.