Election 2008: On the Campaign Trail


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block.

The end is near. Today is the last full day of campaigning before the Democratic primary season comes to a close. More than a year after the race began in earnest, the primaries wrap up tomorrow in Montana and South Dakota.

SIEGEL: Senator Hillary Clinton spent the day campaigning in South Dakota.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Presidential Candidate): Tomorrow is very important. We started out way behind in South Dakota. My opponent has a tremendous base of support here, but we put together an amazing grassroots volunteer-driven campaign.

SIEGEL: And even as Senator Clinton spoke to voters, her husband told another crowd in South Dakota that this may be, and we quote, "the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind."

BLOCK: Barack Obama marked the occasion by speaking in neither of the two states up for grabs tomorrow. He was in Troy, Michigan, lavishing praise on Senator Clinton.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Presidential Candidate): Let me tell you something. First of all, Senator Clinton has run an outstanding race. She is an outstanding public servant, and she and I will be working together in November.

(Soundbite of applause)

BLOCK: And we're joined now by NPR's David Greene traveling with the Clinton campaign in South Dakota and by Don Gonyea with the Obama campaign in Michigan.

And Don, let's start with you. Why was Barack Obama in Michigan at all today?

DON GONYEA: This is part of his looking ahead to November. Michigan, of course, will be a swing state. It's a state that Democrats feel they need if they're going to capture the White House. He is also, really, kind of reintroducing himself. Let's say introducing himself to Michigan voters because of the disputed primary back in January; he didn't campaign here. This is now his second trip here in three weeks. I might also add that as we heard in that clip of tape of Obama, he is, you know, reaching out to Hillary Clinton supporters; he'll need them as well. They're numerous here.

BLOCK: And David Greene, how is the Hillary Clinton campaign responding to that?

DAVID GREENE: Well, the Clinton campaign is saying that they're still moving along and they're going to finish this thing is out; it's still a race. Hillary Clinton spent some time hanging out with voters in a diner in Rapid City, South Dakota. She said that it's a state that Barack Obama has been favored to win. She feels like she's put a real grassroots campaign together. And, of course, a surprise in one of these last two states, Montana and South Dakota, could be a help for her.

But she's not hanging out here. She's going back to New York City where she's going to spend election night. But she says that she's a one-day-at-a-time type of person and her campaign says there's no official nominee yet at this point and so she's going to keep on fighting.

BLOCK: One day at time. David, are you getting any sense that this is a candidate who is preparing - after tomorrow's primary votes - to end her campaign?

GREENE: I'm getting the sense that it's a candidate who's leaving her options very open. And this event tomorrow night's going to be very interesting. She's having a lot of her staff from around the country come in. It's going to have the feel of conclusion because it's the end of the primary season.

But again, the campaign says that by the end of tomorrow night, they feel like it's unlikely there's going to be someone with enough delegates to get the nomination. And then she's leaving it open whether she might take the case to the superdelegates - the undecided ones - yet again and make the case that she's ahead in popular vote, which, of course, is something that Obama disputes, but that she's ahead in popular votes and that she would be the best nominee.

BLOCK: And, Don Gonyea, there with the Obama campaign, how are they reacting to that? What's their strategy going forward?

GONYEA: Well, they know that they are very close to this nomination. And Tuesday, Senator Obama could go over the top with the results in Montana and South Dakota and with, you know, the addition of any more superdelegates that come his way over the next 24, 36 hours or so. So we could hear a declaration of victory in Minneapolis tomorrow. Minneapolis-St. Paul where he will be, which - more than a bit of symbolism here - is where the Republicans will hold their nominating convention later this summer.

BLOCK: Okay, NPR's David Greene and Don Gonyea. Thanks to you both.

GONYEA: All right. It's a pleasure.

GREENE: Thanks, Melissa.

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