WILMINGTON, N.C. - Hillary Clinton said the assassination attempt Sunday on the Afghan president shows that the U.S. has failed to give proper attention to Afghanistan.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault that missed President Hamid Karzai but killed three and wounded eight others at a ceremony in Kabul. Gunman opened fire as a 21-gun salute echoed over the capital at an anniversary ceremony marking the mujahedeen victory over the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Clinton noted how she had met Karzai, and said, "He is a brave man trying under very difficult circumstances to hold that country together, and we have not given him the resources he needs."

Afghanistan needs to get "as much, if not more attention" than Iraq, she added.

Clinton was speaking at an evening rally along Cape Fear in North Carolina, which, along with Indiana, holds its primary May 6. She returned to the southern state, where her opponent Barack Obama is favoured, after spending two days campaigning in Indiana and appealing to working-class voters who have helped propel her to victory in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The polls show a much closer race in Indiana between the two Democratic candidates.

Speaking in a broadcast interview Sunday, Obama said race is not the reason he is struggling to attract working-class votes and insisted he can win over uncommitted superdelegates by showing he is "best able to not just defeat John McCain, but also lead the country."

Obama brushed aside a challenge from Clinton to debate before the May 6 primaries. "I'm not ducking. We've had 21" debates, he said.

Trailing in delegates and the popular vote, Clinton has been stepping up the pressure on Obama for more debates before the upcoming primaries, which are crucial to her candidacy. She also has been reaching out to uncommitted Democratic superdelegates in hopes of capitalizing on her Pennsylvania primary victory.

Clinton's Pennsylvania victory was buoyed by support from working-class and white voters, but Obama dismissed the notion that race will be a factor in the presidential election.

"Is race still a factor in our society? Yes. I don't think anybody would deny that," he said on "Fox News Sunday."

"Is that going to be the determining factor in a general election? No, because I'm absolutely confident that the American people - what they're looking for is somebody who can solve their problems."

Addressing whether superdelegates should back the candidate with the most pledged delegates and popular vote, Obama said he believed voters will be frustrated if Democratic superdelegates choose to back the trailing candidate. He expressed confidence that he can convince superdelegates he is more electable.

Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said superdelegates should make known their choices on the Democratic nominee for president by the end of June. Ultimately, he said he believes their decisions will be based on who is more electable, rather than who has the most pledged delegates, because that is what party rules stipulate.

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