Obama campaign strikes back

WASHINGTON - The attacks on Senator Barack Obama's credibility, ethics and experience that pushed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to a convincing victory in swing-state Ohio and helped her cling to Texas, came back full circle on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON - The attacks on Senator Barack Obama's credibility, ethics and experience that pushed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to a convincing victory in swing-state Ohio and helped her cling to Texas, came back full circle on Wednesday.

Within hours, the Obama campaign struck back at Clinton's perceived penchant for secrecy, and by evening had Mississippi surrogates accusing her of making "derogatory comments" about the South.

"She talked about change you can Xerox," said top Obama strategist David Axelrod. "Well, you can Xerox your tax returns." Calling Clinton a "habitual non-discloser," Axelrod suggested the tax documents might reveal shady sources of the R39million Clinton loaned her struggling campaign last month.

Fasten your seat belts, Democrats, this race has just begun - again. "Little Super Tuesday" turned out to be no more decisive than big Super Tuesday a month ago.

Although both campaigns agree that Obama has a possibly insurmountable lead of pledged delegates - the kind elected by voters - veteran election hands say he cannot clinch the majority needed for the Democratic nomination on those delegates alone, any more than Clinton can.

Nor can he win the nomination by losing big primaries, despite heavily outspending Clinton, in states like Ohio that decide national elections.

Suddenly, there is renewed interest in redoing the Michigan and Florida contests. On Wednesday, the governors of both states said they would consider it. Both campaigns indicated they were open to the idea.

With a combined 376 delegates at stake, these states could now decide the race. It would be the height of irony: After being stripped of their delegates as punishment for holding early contests, they would be rewarded with the chance, potentially, to choose the Democratic nominee.

Without question, the race will continue at least through the Pennsylvania primary seven weeks away, a blue-collar state that heavily favours Clinton, with stops at a Wyoming caucus on Saturday and a Mississippi primary on Tuesday where Obama is expected to prevail. - Sapa

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