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Barack Obama, already in Indiana, says Clinton ran 'terrific race'

April 22, 2008 | 10:41 pm

As Barack Obama took the stage tonight in Evansville, Ind., to try to look ahead in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton broke through an important symbolic barrier in the state he must be happy to leave behind -- she went up by 10 percentage points in Pennsylvania.

Maybe her margin will slip back a bit when 100% of the vote is in, but with most of the count completed, her double-digit lead seemed to be holding steady. And, psychologically, it's a significant result -- one that should cause many leading Democrats to listen a little more intently to her case that she still represents the party's best chance for victory in November.

What happened in Pennsylvania eerily paralleled what happened exactly seven weeks ago in neighboring Ohio. As the campaign there wrapped up, Clinton was considered the favorite, in view of her stronger hold on the votes of lower-income whites. On primary day, that support proved even bigger than expected, powering her to -- sound familar -- a 10-point triumph.

Obama, in his comments in Indiana, had little to say about Pennsylvania, other than to graciously congratulate Clinton on her win and tell his Hooiser supporters who didn't like hearing those words that "she ran a terrific race" (an evaluation that contrasted with his complaints, as the vote neared, that she was in full-fledged attack mode).

He also borrowed a page from Clinton, who in stressing her father's Scranton roots seemed to effectively establish a kinship with Pennsylvanians. Obama, in almost the very first words he uttered, said it was "good to be back in the Midwest."

Maybe that will prove to be the case for the Illinois senator. But his rhetoric didn't soar at this event (a hard task, to be sure, when you've just taken your lumps). And, as will be driven home in news story after news story in the walkout to the May 6 Indiana primary, the state's demographics bear many similarities to Ohio and Pennsylvania.

-- Don Frederick