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Obama says 'We can't wait' in return to Texas

Thursday, February 28, 2008

By ELIZABETH WHITE Associated Press Writer
© 2008 The Associated Press

SAN MARCOS, Texas — Barack Obama appealed on Wednesday to thousands of supporters to make use of the final two days of early voting in Texas, whose upcoming primary could add momentum to his campaign or keep that of his rival alive.

"Now we have been seeing unbelievable turnout everywhere," Obama told a crowd of about 8,000 cheering supporters. "We have early voting here and I want everybody who is here to vote tomorrow or the next day."

Obama spoke at a park at Texas State University, 30 miles southwest of Austin. The crowd lined the banks of a river running through the college town and waited hours in increasingly chilly temperatures to see the Illinois senator.

Obama is making another multi-day swing through Texas, a state that, along with Ohio, could further vault his surging campaign and perhaps sink that of Hillary Rodham Clinton. The high-stakes states, along with Vermont and Rhode Island, hold primary contests on Tuesday.

Clinton has lost 11 straight contests to Obama....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Bloomberg Not Running for President

By SARA KUGLER – 3 hours ago

NEW YORK (AP) — After two years of playing coy about his presidential ambitions, Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared in a newspaper editorial Wednesday that he will not run for president but might support the candidate who "takes an independent, nonpartisan approach."

The 66-year-old billionaire businessman, who aides had said was prepared to spend $1 billion to run as an independent, wrote in an editorial on The New York Times' Web site that he will work to "steer the national conversation away from partisanship and toward unity; away from ideology and toward common sense; away from sound bites and toward substance."

Bloomberg, who has almost two years left in his second term at City Hall, had publicly denied any interest in running for president since one of his political advisers first planted the seed more than two years ago.

But his denials grew weaker in recent months as aides and supporters quietly began laying the groundwork for a third-party campaign.

"I listened carefully to those who encouraged me to run, but I am not — and will not be — a candidate for president," he wrote.

Among his biggest obstacles was getting on the ballot. The process varies wildly from state to state and would have required Bloomberg to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures according to a strict timetable on which the first key date is March 5....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Clinton’s Efforts on Ethanol Overlap Her Husband’s Interests

By MIKE McINTIRE
Published: February 28, 2008

To big rounds of applause, three of the world’s richest men — Richard Branson, Ronald W. Burkle and Vinod Khosla — trooped onto a New York ballroom stage with former President Bill Clinton to pledge support for renewable energy projects to combat global warming and create jobs.

It was September 2006, and the Clinton Global Initiative, the annual star-studded networking event for philanthropists and investors, had generated commitments to spend billions on ethanol and other alternative fuels. Cast as good works, many were also investments by businessmen hoping for a profit.

And sitting in the audience was an influential public official who had also taken an active interest in renewable sources of fuel: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Several months earlier, Mrs. Clinton had sponsored legislation to provide billions in new federal incentives for ethanol, and, especially in her home state of New York, she has worked to foster a business climate that favors the sort of ethanol investments pursued by her husband’s friends and her political supporters....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Despite Nafta Attacks, Clinton and Obama Haven’t Been Free Trade Foes

As they have tussled for votes in economically beleaguered Ohio, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have both excoriated the North American Free Trade Agreement while lobbing accusations against their opponent on the issue.

Lost amid the posturing, however, is that both have staked out nuanced positions in the past on Nafta and have supported similar trade deals. Although their language has become much more hostile to free trade as they have exchanged charges and countercharges, neither of them would have been mistaken in the past for an ardent protectionist or a die-hard free trader.

Instead, both appear to have been part of the conflicted middle ground within the Democratic Party that is groping for a proper balance between being friendly to free trade agreements, believing they are beneficial to the economy, but also seeking to level the playing field for the United States when it comes to labor and environmental standards and addressing job losses that come with globalization.

“The bottom line,” said Lori Wallach, director of the Global Trade Watch division of Public Citizen and a fierce free trade foe, “is neither of the current Democratic candidates were in the category of leaders fighting for improving U.S. trade policy to try to come up with different terms for globalization, but in the course of their campaign they have come to see both the political necessity and the substantive problems, pushing them to some interesting new thinking.”

There is clearly a large dose of politics behind the vigor with which the Democratic contenders are attacking each other on Nafta, full of parsed quotations and misrepresentations. Mr. Obama has accused Mrs. Clinton of full-throated support for Nafta in the past, while Mrs. Clinton has leveled the same charge against Mr. Obama....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Unions help steer Dems' Ohio race

By Jill Lawrence, USA TODAY

CLEVELAND — Snow fell steadily this week as nursing-home employees knocked on doors in working-class neighborhoods for Barack Obama. Across town, in a room furnished with tables and a coffee maker, hospital and school workers clutching cellphones made calls for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Unions and their concerns — topped by jobs, trade and health care — are highly visible in Ohio in advance of Tuesday's pivotal Democratic primary. The state's political leaders say whoever has the best economic message will win — the primary, the nomination and the general election.

"What is the issue that matters most in the states that matter most electorally?" asks Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern. He says those states are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota, and answers his own question: "Building a robust economy. You don't have to walk away from trade to do it."

Ohio was a heartbreaker for Democrats in 2004, when John Kerry lost the state — and the presidency — by 118,601 votes. But the party made a big comeback in 2006 with wins for governor, U.S. senator and other offices....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Young America May Lift Democrats, Shape Agendas

Under-30 Voters Help Bolster Issues Like Student Loans

By ELIZABETH HOLMES
February 28, 2008; Page A10


Behind the surge in voter turnout this year has been a particularly sharp rise among people younger than age 30. In 18 states that have voted in the past two months, younger voters made up 13% of the Democratic electorate, up from 9% in the nominating contests four years ago, an analysis of primary and caucus exit polls shows.

Beyond helping Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in the presidential nominating contest, the trend could lift Democrats across the board in November, as the rise has been much bigger in Democratic primaries than for Republicans. In 16 of the early Republican contests, the younger-than-30 vote for Republicans made up 11% of the primary and caucus voters, up from 10% in 2000, the last time the party had a competitive nominating contest.

The rising prominence of the youth vote also could shape the terms of the campaign debate, as candidates increasingly focus on issues of concern to the younger demographic.

College tuition has taken center stage among the Democrats. Mr. Obama has pledged to institute a tax credit that would make the first $4,000 of college free for most students. In Hillary Clinton's opening remarks at the debate in Austin last week, the New York senator promised to reverse current special interest subsidies and use that money to "make college affordable."...(Click here for remainder of article).

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Houston superdelegate switches support to Obama

© 2008 The Associated Press

AUSTIN — Democratic superdelegate and state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, of Houston, defected from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign Wednesday and joined a growing list of superdelegates to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president, according to his campaign.

"I'm honored to have earned the support of Representative Thompson and am pleased that she'll play an important role in advancing our grassroots movement for change in Houston and across Texas," Obama said in a statement. "Throughout her three decades in the Legislature, she's been a tireless advocate for working families and when I'm president we'll work together to put the American dream within reach of every child in Texas and across our country."

Thompson, one of the longest serving Democrats in the state House, is one of the party insiders who, as a superdelegate, help choose the Democratic nominee at the national convention this summer in Denver....(Click here for remainder of article).


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