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Shields and Brooks Examine Impact of Epic Contest

After Sen. Barack Obama won handily in North Carolina's primary and rival Sen. Hillary Clinton scored a narrow victory in Indiana, many pundits called for Clinton to exit the race and bring the Democratic battle to a close. Mark Shields and David Brooks analyze the state of the race and the rest of the week's news.

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  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton converged on the Portland area today in advance of Oregon's May 20th primary.

    Obama discussed the economy with workers at a software and technology company in suburban Beaverton. But one employee veered off-topic and asked Obama if he would consider asking Hillary Clinton to be his running mate.

    SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Illinois: Were you put up to that by one of those reporters back there?

  • EMPLOYEE:

    No.

  • SEN. BARACK OBAMA:

    Did you guys get to him? Who was that? Well, you know, I said on Brian Williams yesterday, and I would repeat, I have not won this nomination yet. I think it would be presumptuous of me to suggest that she's going to be my running mate when we're still actively running.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Clinton's event took place at a children's hospital in Portland, where she compared her health care plan to Obama's.

    SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), New York: You have to have a seamless health care system which covers every single person. My plan does; my opponent's plan doesn't.

    There are 600,000 uninsured Oregonians. Under my plan, everyone would have insurance. Under his plan, at least 220,000 would still be left uninsured. This is a big difference in this campaign.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Obama picked up the support of nine more super-delegates today, including three members of Congress, Oregon's Peter DeFazio; New Jersey's Donald Payne, originally a Clinton supporter; and Hawaii's Mazie Hirono.

    Clinton added Pennsylvania super-delegate Chris Carney, whose congressional district she won during the state's April primary.

    According to the Associated Press, Obama's lead over Clinton in the overall delegate count, pledged and super-delegates combined, is 157.

    But today, amid all the delegate movement, Rahm Emanuel, a member of the House Democratic leadership, wasn't yet ready to call the race over.

    REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), Illinois: At this point, Barack is the presumptive nominee, at this point. But let me just finish this thing. Hillary can't win, but something could happen that could affect — that Barack could lose the nomination. That's really where you are at this point.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Meanwhile, Republican John McCain toured the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey, this morning. During the visit, he was asked to respond to Obama's comments that McCain had "lost his bearings" for suggesting the Islamic militant group Hamas preferred Obama for president.

  • RALLY ATTENDEE:

    Do you take offense to Obama's comment that you're, quote, "losing your bearings"? And the bigger issue…

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona: I ignore it. I don't take offense to it.

  • RALLY ATTENDEE:

    Do you feel that your age is a legitimate issue in this campaign?

  • SEN. JOHN MCCAIN:

    Every issue that the American people want to be an issue and it's part of their discussions, it's fine with me.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported today that, in 2005, McCain helped push through Congress a federal land deal which former McCain staff members lobbied to get approved.

    The bill allowed an Arizona rancher to swap pine forests and grasslands for some prime federal land ready for development. A longtime McCain supporter and fundraiser was given the contract to build 12,000 homes on the land.

    McCain's campaign said the senator did nothing improper.

    McCain will hold a fundraiser in Houston tomorrow, while Clinton attends a Mother's Day celebration event in New York and Obama continues to campaign in Oregon.

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