- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2008

Panther posting

Sen. Barack Obama, struggling to distance himself from racially incendiary sermons by his longtime pastor, yesterday faced renewed scrutiny because of an endorsement from an anti-government, black-separatist group on his campaign’s official blog site.

The New Black Panther Party, a “black power” group that calls on blacks to arm themselves and frequently espouses anti-white and anti-Semitic rhetoric, posted an endorsement on the Web site that said: “Obama will stir the ‘Melting Pot’ into a better ‘Molten America.’ “

The campaign yesterdaytook down the Black Panthers’ page on the Web site.

“We removed the user-generated blog post because we don’t condone any group that advocates violence,” Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor told reporter S.A. Miller of The Washington Times. “Senator Obama gave a 37-minute speech about race [Tuesday], and we hope people will focus on that and not what one individual posted on a blog.”

He said the Web site, my. barackobama.com, allows supporters to set up their own blog pages and the site now includes more than 1 million pages.

The association with the Black Panthers hit Mr. Obama on the heels of the Tuesday speech in which he disavowed racist sermons by his longtime friend and mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

McCain ahead

Democratic Sen.Barack Obama’s big national lead over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has all but evaporated, and both Democrats trail Republican Sen. John McCain, according a Reuters/Zogby poll released yesterday.

The poll showed Mr. Obama had only a statistically insignificant lead of 47 percent to 44 percent over Mrs. Clinton, down sharply from a 14-point edge he held over her in February when he was riding the tide of 10 straight primary and caucus victories.

The poll showed Mr. McCain, who has clinched the Republican presidential nomination, is benefiting from the lengthy campaign battle between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, Reuters reports.

Mr. McCain leads 46 percent to 40 percent in a hypothetical matchup against Mr. Obama in the November presidential election, according to the poll.

That is a sharp turnaround from the Reuters/Zogby poll from last month, which showed in a head-to-head matchup that Mr. Obama would beat Mr. McCain 47 percent to 40 percent.

“The last couple of weeks have taken a toll on Obama and in a general election matchup, on both Democrats,” said pollster John Zogby.

Matched against Mrs. Clinton, Mr. McCain leads 48 percent to 40 percent, narrower than his 50 percent to 38 percent advantage over her in February.

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