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Obama turns focus to race against McCain, as Clinton struggles

WASHINGTON - U-S Democatic presidential contender Barack Obama turned his focus to the expected presidential contest against Republican John McCain Sunday, but Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to keep her campaign afloat.


WASHINGTON - U-S Democatic presidential contender Barack Obama turned his focus to the expected presidential contest against Republican John McCain Sunday, but Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to keep her campaign afloat.

That was even though her Democratic rival has an almost insurmountable lead in the delegate count.

Clinton spent Sunday wooing voters in West Virginia ahead of Tuesday's primary, aiming for a big win that she hopes will keep her campaign alive.

Obama, inching closer day by day to claiming enough delegates to secure the nomination, spent the Mother's Day holiday off the campaign trail at home in Chicago.

Obama's chief strategist said in a television interview Sunday that his campaign is considering a suggestion from McCain's campaign for the two presidential hopefuls to participate in joint town meetings and debates around America starting this summer.

Asked on "Fox News Sunday" about the suggestion and how seriously it was being considered, David Axelrod said, "Very seriously... we believe that is the most significant election we've faced in a long time."

"We're at war. Our economy is in turmoil. And we've got so many challenges that the people of this country deserve a serious discourse, and it shouldn't be limited necessarily to three kind of very regimented debates in the fall," he added, referring to those sanctioned by a presidential commission.

Axelrod declined to discuss details. So did aides to McCain, saying they would rather wait until they have an official opponent.

But Clinton showed no signs that she was going to quit the race anytime soon.

She toured the birthplace of Mother's Day in rural West Virginia, offering Democrats a subtle reminder that her candidacy remains strong among women and blue-collar, white voters.

Her chief strategist Howard Wolfson said West Virginia is a key swing state that Republicans won in 2000 and 2004, and that the former first lady will put back in the Democratic column. He said Obama should beat her there if he wants her out of the race.

"Why can't Senator Obama beat Senator Clinton in West Virginia? Voters there have heard that he's the presumptive nominee," Wolfson said on "Fox News Sunday."

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