REPORT: TWO MAINE SUPERDELEGATES INELIGIBLE FOR CONVENTION
A new front in the battle between Senators Clinton and Obama was opened this afternoon with a report that two of the state of Maine's so-called superdelegates to the Democratic nominating convention are ineligible because they turn out not to live in the state they'd be representing. Senator Mitchell, the former majority leader in the upper house in Washington, and Governor Curtis, Maine's former governor, live in New York City and Florida respectively, the Ellsworth American newspaper reported. It said that rules of the Democratic National Committee stipulate that superdelegates must legally reside in their respective state. The American cited voter registration records in Manhattan and Sarasota County, but the impact of the development is unclear. The paper reported that both Messrs. Mitchell and Curtis are eligible to serve as distinguished party leaders — delegates to the Democratic National Convention by virtue of their political pedigrees. For Mr. Mitchell that status derives from his being a former majority leader, while for Mr. Curtis it's his former service as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the American reported. The report in the American signals, nonetheless, the prospect that if the Democratic Party's nominating process does come down to a fight over superdelegates, the credentialing of the superdelegates could become a hotly contested issue.
OBAMA, McCAIN BATTLE OVER IRAQ
Previewing a possible general election match-up, Senators Obama and McCain got into a skirmish over the Iraq war, with the Arizona Republican deriding Mr. Obama's comments in Tuesday's Democratic debate that he might send American troops back "if al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq." "I have some news," Mr. McCain said in a rally in Texas, according to news reports. "Al Qaeda is in Iraq. It's called 'al Qaeda in Iraq.'" Warning of the consequences of the withdrawal proposed by Mr. Obama, he pledged never to "surrender to al Qaeda." Campaigning in Ohio, Mr. Obama shot back: "John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but so far all he's done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq that has cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars and that I intend to bring to an end."
CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER LEWIS SWITCHES TO OBAMA FROM CLINTON
Senator Obama finally landed a political coup yesterday when a leader in the civil rights movement, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, announced he was switching his support from Senator Clinton to the Illinois lawmaker. Mr. Lewis, a superdelegate, is a longtime friend of the Clintons and an early supporter of the former first lady's candidacy, but he felt intense pressure to flip after his district and his state voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Obama. He and his allies had been hinting of a switch for days. "It's been a long, hard and difficult struggle to come to where I am now," Mr. Lewis told NBC News, describing his decision as tougher than his participation in the Selma march in 1965.
Senator Obama secured the support yesterday of Senator Dorgan of North Dakota, who praised his criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a top issue in the Ohio primary on March 4.
CLINTON LINKS HER FATE TO THAT OF THE ECONOMY
Senator Clinton spent almost three hours yesterday trying to persuade a college gym full of Ohioans that her detailed plans to revive the failing economy can also resuscitate her dwindling campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"Obviously, the economy is the no. 1 issue in the country, and it's unbelievably important here in Ohio," Mrs. Clinton said. "The economy will be the domestic driver with all the related issues like health care and energy costs and home foreclosures."