Barack sharpens attacks

OREGON - After sharpening his attacks on Republican John McCain, Barack Obama is ready to lay a symbolic claim to the Democratic presidential nomination following the next round of primaries.

OREGON - After sharpening his attacks on Republican John McCain, Barack Obama is ready to lay a symbolic claim to the Democratic presidential nomination following the next round of primaries.

Tomorrow's primaries in Oregon and Kentucky should leave Obama less than 100 delegates away from reaching the total 2 026 needed to secure his party's nomination after an epic battle with Hillary Clinton.

Obama was campaigning over the weekend in Oregon, where polls show him with a comfortable lead, while Clinton has a strong lead in Kentucky.

At stake are 51 delegates in Kentucky and 52 in Oregon. Obama has built a solid lead in Democratic National Convention delegates over Clinton, and is now working overtime to give an air of inevitability to his campaign for the nomination.

In recent days he has spent more time focusing on his differences with McCain than sparring with Clinton.

Obama's aides announced that he planned to hold a rally on primary night tomorrow in Iowa, where his solid win in January's lead-off caucuses propelled him to his status as front-runner.

The rally is the latest effort by Obama, who is bidding to become America's first black president, to shift attention away from the primary season to the November election.

Obama's aides describe Iowa "as a critical general election state that Democrats must win in November".

Obama has largely ignored Clinton while tussling with McCain in a general election-style dispute over foreign policy. - Sapa-AP

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