Clinton Ahead Apr 29, 2008 13:34:59 GMT -5
Post by Flash on Apr 29, 2008 13:34:59 GMT -5
HILLARY Clinton has taken a lead in the latest national poll on presidential match-ups with John McCain, a boost for her claims to be given the nod for the Democratic Party's nomination over Barack Obama, who was facing fresh controversy yesterday, thanks to his former pastor.
An Associated Press-Ipsos poll indicated Senator Clinton leads Senator McCain by nine points in a head-to-head presidential race.
Senator Obama, vying to be the first black US president, is in a statistical dead-heat with Senator McCain according to the same poll, running at 46 per cent to 44 per cent.
The polling is good news for Senator Clinton, whose campaign is getting a second look, thanks to fresh problems surrounding Senator Obama and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
Senator Obama's former preacher fronted the national press yesterday and, in an aggressive performance, refused to withdraw his inflammatory views on September 11 and the US Government's treatment of blacks.
Mr Wright has become an albatross around Senator Obama ever since videos of his angry sermons began surfacing on the internet, including him cursing America and saying the US brought 9/11 on itself.
Yesterday he poured more petrol on the flames, saying: "You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back to you. Those are Biblical principles."
The Obama campaign is dismayed that Mr Wright has decided to come out now in a series of public events, just as Senator Obama is hoping to close out the Democratic nomination and as the issue with his pastor had begun to die down.
If Senator Obama wins the next primary contest in Indiana on Tuesday, it is widely expected he could sound the death knell for Senator Clinton's campaign.
But Indiana boasts many of the same working-class whites that in Pennsylvania last week flocked to Senator Clinton at margins of about 70 to 30.
Senator Obama has been campaigning as a post-racial candidate and trying to bridge the gap in racial politics. But his former pastor, who married him and baptised his children, is inflaming tensions anew, saying the attacks on his sermons represented "an attack on the black church".
While Senator Obama has condemned Mr Wright's most incendiary remarks, he has not denounced the man who was his preacher in Chicago for 20 years.
In a press conference on the tarmac in Wilmington, North Carolina, where Senator Obama is campaigning for the Indiana primary, he attempted to put more distance between himself and Mr Wright, but again did not denounce him. "He's obviously free to speak his mind, but I just want to emphasise that this is my former pastor," he said.
"Many of the statements that he has made to trigger this controversy are not statements that I've heard him make previously. They don't represent my view, and they don't represent what this campaign is about. He does not speak for me. He does not speak for the campaign."
His chief strategist, David Axelrod, more pointedly said Mr Wright had "gotten himself quite a platform", suggesting the pastor was "on a media tour".
Edited video clips of Mr Wright's sermons are now the stuff of Republican party ads, where, among other things, the pastor is shouting "God damn America!" or suggesting the 9/11 attacks were an instance of "chickens coming home to roost". Senator McCain said yesterday he accepted Senator Obama's assurances he did not share the pastor's opinions, but added: "I also understand why millions of Americans may ... view this as a political issue."
Yesterday, Mr Wright rejected the claim that his 9/11 comments meant he was anti-American, saying people were not listening to his entire sermon. He added: "I served six years in the military ... How many years did (Vice-President Dick) Cheney serve?"
Asked about his claims that the Government could have invented HIV/AIDS, he said: "I believe our Government is capable of anything."