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With Texas and Ohio on Horizon, Shields and Brooks Assess the Race

Amid worsening economic reports and tightening poll numbers, the primary race between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton entered a critical weekend ahead of primary votes in Texas and Ohio. Analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks provide their take on the week.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And that brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, who joins us tonight from Columbus, Ohio, and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Mark, what do the polls — you're in Ohio. You've been there recently, now. What do the polls and your own reporting show you or tell you about what's going to happen on Tuesday?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    Well, Jim, in many respects, it's following a similar pattern we've seeing elsewhere where Senator Clinton opened up the contest with a double-digit lead — in some cases, 20 points — which we're now seeing narrow.

    But she is clinging to a single-digit lead in virtually every poll. I think there's been one that showed Senator Obama ahead, but basically a close contest with Senator Clinton still ahead.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Do you agree with what the congresswoman and the mayor just said, that it really isn't issues that separate them, it's something else?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    It is something else. And, no, there aren't any great issues, although each of them tries to emphasize from time to time differences.

    And Barack Obama constantly returns to the vote for the war in Iraq, and Senator Clinton supported that. And Senator Clinton likes to emphasize the difference in their health plans because she thinks that's to her advantage. And I think most people would agree it probably is.

    But there are not great divides here; this is not a great ideological strife.