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Barack Obama wants to be president of these 57 United States

May 9, 2008 |  1:42 pm

Ah, Oregon. The beautiful Northwest. Rain. Trees. Clouds. Rain. Friendly territory for Sen. Barack Obama, the leading contender for the Democratic Party's long-disputed presidential nomination.

So there he was in Beaverton today at the start of a two-Illinois Senator and leading Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama speaking to a friendly crowd againday swing through Oregon, virtually ignoring his remaining Democratic opponent, what's-her-name from New York, as part of his new strategy to act like the actual nominee while she flails around way behind in numbers.

Naturally, this being the Northwest where everything is not ruined quite yet, his staff had Obama visit an eco-friendly company, Vernier Software & Technology, that makes products for science teachers. He could get education in there too, see?

In his prepared remarks Obama was ready to start blasting Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, to show the Illinois Democrat is moving on to the general election campaign.

But first the freshman senator had to go through all the....

...obligatory delighted to see you, delighted to be here part of stump speeches that also require that you actually know where you are.

Obama pulled that off O.K. But then he drifted away from the text a tad, as rookies are wont to do sometimes, forgetting how exhausting this primary process is and should be. And trusting in their instincts, their very tired instincts.

"It is wonderful to be back in Oregon," Obama said. "Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit, but my staff would not justify it."

The Times' conscientious Robin Abcarian thought she heard something different there. She checked her tape recorder. It had captured what he had actually said -- 57 states now. A new Louisiana Purchase that's gone unannounced so far? Was he channeling his inner John Kerry-Heinz 57 personality?

(UPDATE: At a later stop Obama was talking with reporters and expressed concern he'd also mis-stated the number of potential cyclone victims in Burma. He said, ""I hope I said 100,000 people the first time instead of 100 million. I understand I said there were 57 states today. It's a sign that my numeracy is getting a little, uh." At that point, an aide cut him off and ushered journalists out. Before he could mis-speak again?)

Oh, and as far as Hawaii voters are concerned, they're probably delighted to learn that Obama's campaign staff doesn't think that tiny state can justify an appearance by his eminence, even though he did a lot of growing up there. Or maybe because he was there.

Let's see what they do with that in the Honolulu media, which the Republicans have probably already notifed.

Maybe it's Obama's age. He's getting up there in his forties, you know.

(ANOTHER UPDATE: Because of a new development in this situation another item on this subject has been posted here.)

--Andrew Malcolm

Photo Credit: AP / Joe Raymond

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