Election 2008

On the Campaign Trail Ahead of Super Tuesday

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In Depth

What's at Stake on Super Tuesday? Get a region-by-region analysis.

Scott Simon talks with David Greene from California about how the Democratic campaign is shaping up for Super Tuesday.


This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Forecast for the next few days is Super. Super Bowl tomorrow and then Super Tuesday. Super Duper Tuesday, whatever you want to call it. Twenty-two states are holding Democratic nominating contests to decide between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. We're joined by NPR's David Greene who is in Los Angeles with the Clinton campaign. David, thanks so much for being with us.

DAVID GREENE: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: This is being called the first almost national primary. And it ranges through so many states from east to west. You just don't have a bus tour, do you?

GREENE: It's not a bus tour. It seems like Iowa and New Hampshire and bus tours are a distant memory. This is so intense, you know, it feels a bit more chaotic than even the end of a presidential campaign, a general election. Because then you're dealing with a relatively few number of swing states. And here on the Democratic side, you're dealing with 22 states, and the candidates are trying to stop in as many as they can but also targeting where they think they can make a difference. And Hillary Clinton has been spending a lot of time in California. And no bus tour; it's been flying around the state to the big media markets, San Francisco, L.A., San Diego, holding larger events. But it's also advertising and getting on local television is also very, very important. And Hillary Clinton, for example, spent a chunk of her day not talking to voters directly, but sitting in California doing television interviews with local network affiliates all across the country.

SIMON: On the Democratic side especially, where delegates are awarded proportionally, does the focus of the battle now switch to what amounts to a trench warfare for delegates, state by state, rather than trying to win a state?

GREENE: You know, it really does feel that way. And I think that's a lot of the strategy that's going on. Where can I pick up the most delegates possible? And when we get to Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, I think we are going to be talking about a lot of numbers. You know, what do the numbers look like, who's ahead, who might be getting close to wrapping up the nomination, or is it really a dead heat and we have a long way to go. But there are some other things going on too, Scott. I think, you know, the candidates are trying to do some work to send some more symbolic messages. You know, Barack Obama has been in some Republican states. I think he's trying to show that he has strength in some states that traditionally are Republican. He's been trying to make inroads with Hispanic voters, which is a group that Hillary Clinton has very wide appeal, to show that he would be able to break into that. And for Hillary Clinton, she spent some time in Georgia earlier this week trying to repair relations with the African-American community.

SIMON: You know I just realized, I think it's been 24 hours and I haven't heard anything about Bill Clinton.

GREENE: Amazing.

SIMON: What's going on? Is he all right?

GREENE: Obviously he played a big role in the South Carolina primary, and that's really why Hillary Clinton, I think, has some repair work to do with the African-American community. Bill Clinton's aggressive campaigning and, you know, really tough language he used about Barack Obama, I think the Clinton campaign acknowledges, really offended some African-American voters. And when I was in Georgia with Hillary Clinton, you know, I talked to some black voters who even said they are supporting Hillary Clinton but really feel like Bill Clinton went too far. And he has been more subdued out there on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton in the last few days. But he also has found a new target, Senator Ted Kennedy from Massachusetts who is now an Obama supporter. And Bill Clinton has been out there talking about No Child Left Behind, the education law that Kennedy helped write, as a disaster. And he's been bringing up Kennedy's name, which I don't think is any accident.

SIMON: David Greene on the road with the Clinton campaign in Los Angeles. Thanks very much.

GREENE: A pleasure, Scott.

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