- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas (AP)

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton set out to change the course of the Democratic presidential race Thursday in the first of a pair of debates with Sen. Barack Obama before March 4 primaries in two battleground states.

Clinton has lost 11 straight primaries and caucuses to Obama including an overseas competition for support among Americans living aboard and fallen behind in the delegate chase.

Obama’s strong showing has made him the man to beat in a historic struggle between a black man and a white woman, and even some of Clinton’s own supporters conceded she needs victories in both Ohio and Texas early next month to preserve her candidacy. Rhode Island and Vermont also vote that day.

The Democrats have had at least 18 debates and forums of the campaign, a series that has ranged from highly civilized to hotly confrontational.

The last time the two met, in Los Angeles, they sat side by side and disagreed politely. But in an earlier encounter last month, in Myrtle Beach, S.C., each accused the other of repeatedly and deliberately distorting the truth for political gain in a highly personal, finger-wagging showdown.

In The Associated Press’ delegate count Thursday, Obama had 1,358.5 to 1,264 for Clinton. It takes 2,025 delegates to claim the nomination at this summer’s convention.

In a further sign of his growing strength, Obama won the endorsement during the day of the Change to Win labor federation, which claims 6 million members. The Teamsters union announced its support for Obama yesterday.

The debate is sponsored by CNN, Univision and the Texas Democratic Party.


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