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Obama Sweeps Three Contests, Set to Close Delegate Gap with Clinton

The victories would likely help Obama narrow the overall gap he faces in delegates and super delegates with Sen. Hillary Clinton in their closely-fought battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama wasted no time in campaigning in states with upcoming contests. On Saturday he rallied in Maine, which votes Sunday, and addressed a huge state party rally in Virginia, which votes Tuesday.

While addressing the raucous Democratic Party event in Richmond, Va., Obama hailed his victories from Saturday.

“We are tired of being disappointed by our politics,” Obama said to cheers, adding that when Americans see the typical way Washington, D.C., operates, “we become cynical. We conclude this is the best we can do and people turn away from politics.

“And today, the voters from the West Coast, to the Gulf Coast to the heart of America said, ‘Yes, we can’,” Obama said to yet another ovation.

He also took a shot at both Clinton and Republican front-runner Sen. John McCain, saying the Democratic nomination fight was about debating the Republican nominee-in-waiting “about who has the most experience in Washington, or debating him about who’s most likely to change Washington. Because that’s a debate we can win.”

Clinton campaign operatives had said Saturday’s contests heavily favored Obama, who spent more than $300,000 on advertising in Louisiana and hundreds of thousands more in Nebraska and Washington state.

The New York senator did not mention Saturday’s results when, earlier in the evening, she addressed the same rally in Richmond. Instead, Clinton stressed the need for the Democratic Party to focus on victory in the fall, saying it was important that when “he or she places her hand on the Bible to take the oath of office,” that they are a Democrat.

She cautioned the need for the next president to be ready for the challenges, pointing out that on Jan. 20, 2009, “Waiting there [in the Oval Office] will be two wars, an economy in trouble, the health care crisis, the house crisis.”

Instead of referencing Saturday’s nominating contests, Clinton instead targeted Sen. John McCain with her fire.

“President Bush has already put his stamp of approval on Senator McCain’s conservative credentials,” she said, then quipping, “and I’m sure that will help.” The line won cheers and laughs.

Sen. Clinton came into Saturday’s voting with a 57-delegate lead, largely fueled by her support among Democratic super delegates. It will take some time to decipher how many delegates Obama will emerge with from these two contests as the Democratic system for awarding delegates requires clear vote totals within Congressional Districts.

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