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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Those last few sentences from NPR's Don Gonyea give us plenty to talk about with Cokie Roberts, who joins us every Monday morning for some analysis. Cokie, good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Let's talk about that reference to a Democratic battle dragging on. How is Barack Obama doing at defending this remark about bitter people turning to God and guns?

ROBERTS: Well, obviously, he is being not just hammered by Hillary Clinton on it, but by Republicans. Over the weekend, you heard on all the Sunday shows and all the Republican operatives just going after him, saying he's the most liberal candidate since George McGovern, elitist, out of touch. The fact that he's made these remarks in San Francisco, the symbol of liberalism and elitism to Republicans when they take on the Democrats. And that he said them privately, showing that you can say nothing privately anymore, that this was his true self is what they were trying to get across.

Now look, this would've been the campaign against any Democratic candidate anyway, that they are liberal and elitist and out of touch, but Barack Obama just gave the Republicans some ammunition.

STEVE INSKEEP: Does Hillary Clinton have some effective ammunition?

ROBERTS: Well, it certainly plays into her argument with the superdelegates that she's more electable. Look, the truth is that a liberal senator from either Illinois or New York is not the most effective Democratic candidate.

Usually, the Democrat who wins is a Southerner or a governor, you know, something that is not - something that does not describe either one of these people. However, their race and sex and life stories they hope changes that dynamic, and Barack Obama has certainly gotten off some good lines over the weekend about Hillary Clinton's attacks.

He says she sounds like Annie Oakley, who's in a duck blind every weekend.

INSKEEP: Ooh.

ROBERTS: And you know, we'll see. The Pennsylvania primary will finally be next week, and the fact that Obama has the support of Senator Casey should help him with the people that he seemed to be denigrating in that statement, although he has tried to explain that he was not.

And he has pulled ahead among men in Pennsylvania. Now, we'll see if these comments affects that. I think we'll hear it all hashed out in a debate that they have on Wednesday night.

INSKEEP: Is Hillary Clinton getting much help from the other Clinton?

ROBERTS: No, she is getting harmed from the other Clinton. Every time she gets some traction, President Clinton distracts, and this time just as the story about sniper fire in Bosnia was fading, he brought it back up again, and he brought it back up with completely erroneous information.

You know, his description earned him in all of the campaign watches, you know, Pinocchio noses because it was just wrong.

It's happened so often now that he, every time she seems to sort of get going that he throws a wrench in the plans, that some of her supporters are wondering whether he's trying to sabotage her - not consciously, but subconsciously -whether there's something going on there because it just keeps happening.

And this time, he says she called him up and said, let me handle Bosnia, okay? I was there; you weren't.

INSKEEP: One other thing, Cokie, coming back to that last paragraph or so from Don Gonyea. He mentioned that John McCain did not go to this forum on faith, citing scheduling conflicts, but he speculated maybe it's just that John McCain doesn't need to be in between these two Democrats as they tear each other apart.

Has John McCain had an opportunity out of the spotlight to get his campaign organized, get his finances organized, and improve his standing with the public?

ROBERTS: Yes, he has, and in the polls, he is running even or some -slightly ahead, and it shouldn't be like that. It should be a very Democratic year. When you have more than 80 percent of the people saying the country is off on the wrong track, a Democrat should be winning hands-down. And in generic polls, where you just run a Democrat against a Republican, they are winning.

You run John McCain against either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, and he's tied or slightly ahead or slightly behind. I think that that will change. Polling from now until November will change a lot, but he is clearly having some time to regroup and reorganize.

INSKEEP: Okay, analysis that we get every Monday morning from NPR's Cokie Roberts here on MORNING EDITION.

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INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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