Campaigns move into rivals' home turf
Barack Obama launched ads for his campaign in New York this week, contesting Hillary Rodham Clinton in her home state.
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But Obama has made splashy visits to Manhattan and Brooklyn and has built an energetic grass-roots network in New York City, home to many young voters, blacks, and progressives – as well as half the state's Democratic primary votes. Obama raised nearly $8 million in the state as of Sept. 30, far less than Clinton's $18 million, but almost as much as former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.Skip to next paragraph
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"If we can get 40% of the vote that would be huge considering this is Clinton Back yard," a supporter blogged last week on a "Brooklyn for Barack" website.
Clinton aides say they are taking nothing for granted, but mentions of Obama's push inspire protective instincts. "She's been an extraordinary senator and she's one of our own," Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Clinton supporter who represents Brooklyn and Queens, says in a phone interview. As for Obama's efforts in New York, he says, "they don't have a lot of money and they'd be wasting it."
Illinois is Obama country, and he is leading by nearly 30 percentage points in the polls. But Clinton also has roots there; she was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs. Illinois awards delegates proportionally, and her campaign says it is mining every district.
The Clinton campaign claims a database of more than 5,000 Illinois volunteers and is focusing particular attention on voters downstate, where Obama didn't perform as well in his 2004 election. Campaign ads in St. Louis reach many Illinois voters, and on Wednesday the campaign dispatched Bill Clinton to an event in downstate Edwardsville, Ill.
"It's going to be a tough fight," says Emilia DiMenco, an executive at Harris Bank who serves on an Illinois steering committee for Clinton. "She's a native daughter and he's an adopted son, but he's our senator. Many political figures cannot show their support for Senator Clinton until Feb. 6."
Obama is leaving nothing to chance. Some 25,000 volunteers are helping get people to the polls, and a phalanx of supporters are staging press conferences and rallies this week in every media market in the state, says Ben LaBolt, an Obama spokesman.
"Senator Clinton is also from Illinois and maintains a base of support here," he says. "We're not taking anything for granted."