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Shields and Brooks Consider Impact of Pa. Contest

After weeks of heavy campaigning in Pennsylvania, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in the Keystone state's Democratic primary Tuesday. Political analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks weigh the candidates' chances going into and coming out of Pennsylvania.

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    Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks. He joins us from Charlotte, North Carolina.

    David, to you first. There seem to be different levels of expectations out of Pennsylvania for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Explain how that works.

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    Well, I think the gods of spin have had a loya jirga and reached some sort of consensus, I think, which is that, if Hillary Clinton wins by more than 10 points, then she gets a real charge out of this. If Barack Obama actually wins the state by any margin, he knocks her out of the race. And if it's in between, that all depends.

    But there's going to be a second layer of analysis. I think a lot of the super-delegates and a lot of the spin-meisters, including myself, will be looking at the second layer, not only the total margin, but who did well where?

    If Obama can't do well among high school-educated whites, that will underline his key weakness. But I'm going to be paying most attention to places like Chester County, Exton, Pennsylvania, sort of the fast-growing suburbs, because we know Obama is going to do well in the affluent suburbs, the mainline.

    But in the fast-growing suburbs, that sort of voter really matters in the fall. And if he can show some strength there, then I think he's got a positive message to take out.