Obama will be the Democratic nominee for president this Fall, and he just may win

By Sam Johns

Sen. Barack Obama has proven the Black establishment Blacks in the Democratic Party wrong, In fact, he has proven many at blacknewsweekly.com wrong in that no one a year ago thought he could get the Democratic nomination from the Clinton machine, but with more and more Democrats coming over to his side, it’s only a matter of time before the first African American in this country’s history has a chance of becoming president.

On Friday he closed in on Sen. Hillary Clinton's lead among superdelegates, the Democratic officials who hold the balance of power in determining the party's presidential nominee.

Clinton's and Obama's support among white voters changed little since December, but the shifts among Black Democrats were dramatic. In December and January Post-ABC News polls, Clinton led Obama among African Americans by 60 percent to 20 percent. In the new poll, Obama held a narrow advantage among Blacks, 44 percent to 33 percent.

The shift came despite four in five Blacks having a favorable impression of the New York senator. Obama makes a prominent return Thursday to Capitol Hill, where he is trailed by reporters.

The Obama campaign announced the support of four new superdelegates — including a previous Clinton backer.

Black voters were betting on Hillary Clinton over her Democratic rival Barack Obama to fix Iraq, Social Security and health care, a new poll shows. On those three key issues cited as most important by the 750 African-Americans polled, Clinton's ratings are nearly double Obama's, the only black person running for President.

She also beat him on overall favorability, 83% to 74%, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies poll.

At first, Blacks thought she's a more likely winner" in a general election, but all that has changed. Blacks voted overwhelmingly for Obama in every state… betraying the Black establishment.

One survey showed Clinton beating Obama with her positions on Iraq, 35% to 22%, and Social Security, 41% to 19%. More than twice as many thought she has a better chance to enact health care reform than he does.

Rudy Giuliani fared best among GOP candidates in the poll - though only 27% of blacks view him favorably compared with 42% who don't.

The most senior Black congressman in America had a tough warning for Hillary Clinton this weekend as she fought to wrest the Democratic presidential nomination from Barack Obama.

“We’ll be playing with fire if we interfere with the voters’ choice,” James Clyburn, the party’s chief whip in the House of Representatives, told The Sunday Times. “African-Americans will feel cheated.”

Clinton is hoping to win by persuading superdelegates — the party officials with a free vote and the power to tip the nomination at the Democratic convention in August – to back her, even if Obama is in the lead once all the primaries and caucuses have been held.

But Clyburn, who has yet to endorse either candidate, believes this path would be suicidal for the Democrats. African-Americans were not the only ones who would feel betrayed, he said. “Barack Obama has brought in a lot of young voters for the first time, and they’ll feel cheated too.” Many Clinton supporters are equally adamant that their candidate must win because white Americans are not going to elect a black president. Either way, Democrats are on a collision course.

“When it comes down to it, they are not going to vote for a black man,” said Jim Whitworth, 43, who wore a Harley-Davidson motorcycle T-shirt and a chestful of Hillary for President buttons to a Clinton rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He said the more he learnt about Obama, the more he found him “scary”.

“I don’t feel like I’m a racist, but this country is. People say they will vote for a black person, but when they get to the polls they won’t.”

The Democratic party is splitting over the most ugly, divisive issue in America. The contest began as an exciting, inspirational battle between two widely respected candidates with the potential to make history as the first woman or first black president. Yet it could end in bitterness and defeat at the hands of the Republicans if the breach is not healed.

In Florida, 27% of voters said America was not ready for a Black president, according to exit polls. In Ohio and Pennsylvania, race was an important factor to 20% and 19% respectively. These three swing states are critical to the Democrats’ prospects of winning the White House this November — and Clinton has beaten Obama decisively in all of them.

When Obama won in Iowa, a predominantly white state, in early January, it was a moment of promise. Some people were moved to tears as crowds chanted: “Race doesn’t matter.”

Clyburn has a different opinion. “Race always matters,” he said. “That slogan was more about young college graduates telling people, ‘Race doesn’t matter to us’.”

Obama was defeated by a nine-point margin in last week’s Pennsylvania primary after losing the support of white voters by 63% to 37%. He won 90% of Black voters.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson also criticized Obama in a Chicago Sun-Times Op-Ed for avoiding the "plight" of Blacks. He praised John Edwards but not Obama, whom the civil rights leader has endorsed.

California Democratic National Committee member and superdelegate Ed Espinoza endorsed the senator from Illinois Friday, according to the Obama camp.

Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon also told The Oregonian newspaper that he will support Obama's bid. Oregon voters are in the middle of primary voting, which takes place through the mail.

Rep. Donald Payne, a New Jersey Democrat and an early Clinton supporter, told The (Newark) Star-Ledger that he was switching to Obama.

John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, also said he is backing Obama. He had been uncommitted. His union, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, said it represents more than 600,000 workers.

Espinoza, Payne, DeFazio and Gage are superdelegates — party officials, elected representatives and activists who are free to vote the way they want or to change their minds after pledging to a

There are now more superdelegates than pledged delegates among those who remain undecided. A flood of endorsements from superdelegates could virtually end the Democratic race. Find out where the superdelegates stand »

Neither candidate has the 2,025 delegates needed for the nomination. Obama has 1,856 total delegates, 169 delegates short of clinching the Democratic nod, and Clinton has 1,691, according to a CNN survey.

Obama holds a commanding lead in the number of pledged delegates awarded from primaries and caucuses — 1,592 to Clinton's 1,424.

The latest announcements narrow Clinton's lead in superdelegates to three — 267 to 264. At the year's start, she led by more than 100 superdelegates. Video Watch as the momentum appears to be in Obama's favor »

Payne is among the latest defections from Clinton.

Following Clinton's narrow win Tuesday in Indiana and and her double-digit loss in North Carolina, former Sen. George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, said he had decided to back Obama over the former first lady. McGovern is not a superdelegate.

A Virginia superdelegate — Jennifer McClellan, a member of the state House of Delegates from Richmond — moved over to Obama, too.

Nevertheless, the Clinton campaign said it had picked up the support of Rep. Christopher Carney of Pennsylvania.

Clinton is not going down without a fight, making pitches Friday to superdelegates that she is the best candidate to lead a Democratic ticket in November.

Her campaign tried to appeal to elected Democrats in Republican-leaning districts, arguing that Clinton can win more votes there than Obama and thus help their re-election prospects.

In a PowerPoint presentation e-mailed to the nearly 800 superdelegates, the campaign detailed how she had defeated Obama in GOP-leaning congressional districts and had consistently topped him among key voting blocs such as senior citizens and Hispanics.

Despite those efforts, the Clinton camp already appears to be planning an exit strategy, according to Lawrence O'Donnell, a Huffington Post contributor who cited Clinton insiders.

"They are saying that Hillary will be out of the race by June 15," O'Donnell said Friday on CNN's "American Morning."

"What the senior campaign official has told me is that they will go through the final votes on June 3.

"Remember, Hillary is going to win maybe three of the elections, and Obama is going to win maybe three elections coming out of it," he said, referring to the remaining six contests. Video Watch what O'Donnell says Clinton insiders are saying behind doors »

O'Donnell said the Clinton campaign then would make its case to the superdelegates for about a week after the primaries ended.

"The superdelegates have no chance of moving over to Hillary Clinton in a week," he said. "So for the Clinton campaign to say we will only make the case for a week, and then by June 15, we will have a nominee, that is to say she will drop out."

Meanwhile, former Democratic contender John Edwards said Friday on NBC and MSNBC that Obama is the likely nominee. Edwards is not a superdelegate.

Both the Clinton and Obama campaigns have heavily wooed the former senator from North Carolina since he ended his presidential run in January, but he has not publicly endorsed either candidate.

Edwards said Friday that he worried the continuing campaign could take a toll on the Democratic Party's chances in November.

"I think it's fine for Hillary to keep making the case for her," he said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "But when that shifts to everything that is wrong with [Obama], then we're doing damage instead of being helpful."

On Thursday, Obama paid an unusual half-hour visit to the floor of the House of Representatives, where lawmakers greeted him enthusiastically. He denied he was campaigning, saying he was "just saying hello."

"There are some undecideds" in the House, Obama said as he was leaving. "If they have questions for me, then I'm certainly happy to respond to them."

There are more than 70 undeclared Democrats in the House.

Obama made clear he is willing to campaign through the remaining contests if Clinton does not drop out before the last one on June 3.

"Sen. Clinton is a formidable candidate. She is very likely to win West Virginia and Kentucky. Those are two states where she has insurmountable leads," he said. "We're going to have spend some time there. But we're also going to Oregon, Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico."

In an interview Thursday with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room," Obama deflected a question about a potential joint ticket with Clinton, saying it's too early to start thinking about running mates. Video Watch the interview with Obama »

"Sen. Clinton's ... tireless, she's smart, she's capable, and so obviously she'd be on anybody's short list to be a potential vice presidential candidate," he said. "But it would be presumptuous of me at this point ... to somehow suggest that she should be my running mate."

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