Posted: February 21, 2008 6:32 PM
Clinton, Obama Spar in Texas Ahead of Debate
Democratic rivals Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois made rounds across Texas as they prepared for Thursday night’s debate in Austin.
“I am better prepared to be the president and commander in chief,” Clinton said in Hidalgo, resting on her message of experience, according to the Houston Chronicle. “We don’t need any on-the-job training for the president of the United States.”
“Obama told about 16,000 people at Reunion Arena in Dallas that Clinton practices the politics of ‘division and distraction’ that will keep Democrats mired in the past instead of looking to the future,” the Chronicle said.
After Wednesday night’s debate, the candidates will meet for another debate in Ohio next week — both are in preparation for March 4’s primaries in Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island.
Heading into the Texas debate, Clinton is under particular pressure for voter support the delegate-rich state. She trails Obama in projected delegate counts, and although she enjoyed strong support from Latino voters in states like Nevada and California, there has been question over whether Latino Texans will side with Obama, given his recent momentum.
A recent poll average by Realclearpolitics.com shows Clinton leading Obama 50 percent to 43 percent in Texas.
“Obama needs to break through to Latino voters in this debate. Latinos know and trust the Clintons. They don’t know Obama. Clinton is relying on Latinos as her firewall in Texas,” CNN’s Bill Schneider said. “The debate — broadcast in Spanish on Univision — is his chance to break through that firewall.”
The Illinois senator is entering Thursday night’s debate with new support from major unions and a new win from votes by Democrats abroad, which will send 22 delegates to the convention, each worth half of a domestic Democratic delegate vote.
The 1.4 million-member Teamsters Union and the 65,000-member International Brotherhood of Boilermakers announced their endorsements of Obama earlier this week.