MADELEINE BRAND, host:
This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.
ANTHONY BROOKS, host:
And I'm Anthony Brooks.
Turning now to presidential politics. Barack Obama cruised to an easy and expected win last night in the Mississippi primary. Now his race with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination shifts gear, from a rapid-fire, multi-state sprint to a long six-week marathon until the Pennsylvania primary on April 22nd.
NPR's Don Gonyea is just back from Pennsylvania, and he joins us now. Welcome, Don.
DON GONYEA: Hi. Glad to be here.
BROOKS: Good to have you. How does the six-week break - it's a long one. How does it change the dynamics of this race?
GONYEA: Okay, well, listen to this sound.
(Soundbite of sigh)
BROOKS: Okay, we know what it does for you.
GONYEA: That's the sound of me and everyone else taking a breath. Just taking a breath here. Suddenly there's the sense like, oh, oh, oh, oh, wait, wait, we don't have to have all this done by next Tuesday. We've got time. I was with Senator Clinton in Harrisburg, in Scranton, and in Philadelphia the past couple of days. And a lot of the urgency is gone, even as the race in general is as tense as it has ever been, and there is so much writing on this. But that's kind of the feeling right now.
BROOKS: And Don, any sense of who it helps most? Polls show that Clinton is ahead in Pennsylvania. It would seem to me that this long break gives her a chance to sort of hammer away at Obama. What do you think?
GONYEA: Yeah, I think that's probably a reasonable assessment of it. She has been on the attack, and there are indications that it has worked, you know, that ad questioning his experience, with the phone ringing at 3:00 in the morning in the White House. And it presents, obviously, that challenge for him to figure out ways to aggressively answer that, and we have seen the contours of his approach changing a bit. He has been a bit more aggressive. They've been saying, hey, what about Senator Clinton's tax returns, and who has been contributing money to her husband's presidential library? And what's to say she is experienced to answer that telephone?
BROOKS: It sort of strikes me that we're back to Iowa and New Hampshire; that is, tons of time to focus on one state. How do folks in Pennsylvania feel about this?
GONYEA: They feel pretty darn good about it. You know, they didn't know they would be in the swing, that they would be such a critical state. And you can see these crowds kind of energized and fired up and glad that this road show is coming to their state, even though, you know, they seem to be bracing themselves for the onslaught of advertisements and everything else.
BROOKS: Finally, Don, racial politics were a factor in Mississippi yesterday, thanks in part to Geraldine Ferraro, the former vice presidential candidate. She is a Clinton supporter, of course, and her comment that Senator Obama wouldn't be where he is if he weren't black set off a volley of racial charges and countercharges. They may have helped Senator Obama in Mississippi. How will they play in Pennsylvania, do you think?
GONYEA: That's going to be fascinating to watch. You know, the exit polls tell us that of white voters in Mississippi, a quarter of them said they considered race when deciding their vote. And you know, we don't know what that means, that they considered it, what they're thinking was, how it played. And Mississippi voters are not Pennsylvania voters; they're different places with different histories. But this issue is front and center in the campaign. It just is. And after so much talk for so many months about Obama being a candidate who transcends race, race is something that people are talking about.
BROOKS: Okay. NPR's Don Gonyea. Thanks for joining us.
GONYEA: It's a pleasure as always.
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