Clinton on Thursday tried to shore up her appeal to
middle-class voters, some of whom appear to be leaning
toward new Democratic presidential front-runner Barack
Obama, by proposing restrictions on big corporations
she said would save ordinary Americans $55 billion.
The former first
lady, widely considered the Democratic front-runner just
a few weeks ago, has now lost eight straight contests with
her defeats this weeks in Virginia, Maryland, and
As she turned her
attention to must-win March 4 races in Texas and Ohio,
she focused on the economy, a topic she hoped would help her
in states struggling with lagging industry and a
nationwide mortgage crisis.
Clinton, who has
been criticized for taking corporate special interest
contributions, proposed new restrictions Thursday on oil,
insurance, credit card, student loan and Wall Street
investment companies. ''For seven long years, we've
had a government of, by, and for the special
interests, and we've had enough,'' the New York senator told
an audience at an Ohio General Motors plant. ''It's
time to level the playing field against the special
interests and deliver 21st century solutions to
rebuild the middle class.''
Her rival, Barack
Obama, announced Wednesday that as president he would
spend $210 billion to create jobs in construction and
environmental industries. He painted Clinton and the
presumed Republican nominee John McCain as Washington
insiders whose votes on the Iraq war have had stark
A big win in Ohio
would be a major boost for Clinton, who is struggling
in her historic race with Obama and hopes to become the
first female U.S. president. Obama is seeking to be
the first black American president.
A poll released
Thursday shows Clinton leading Obama in Ohio 55% to 34%,
with an almost 2-to-1 lead in the state among white voters,
and almost as big an advantage with women and voters
age 45 and older. In Pennsylvania, which holds its
contest April 22, Clinton polled 52% to Obama's 36%.
University polls in both states were conducted February
6-12 and have a margin of error of plus or minus
Both Ohio and
Pennsylvania are industrial states that have been battered
by a lagging economy, and voters there might be receptive to
Clinton's economic push.
On the Republican
side, McCain sought to convince conservatives that the
party must unite if it hopes to match the enthusiasm
generated by the two Democrats. Democrats have turned
out to vote in significantly higher numbers than
Republicans in recent races.
Tuesday in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., give
him the edge in the delegate count but hardly assure him of
the nomination. A total of 2,025 delegates are needed
to clinch the Democratic nomination, and Obama now
leads Clinton by just 55 delegates. He has 1,275 to
But those wins,
on top of five over the weekend, give him an undeniable
advantage. He has a good opportunity to extend his streak
with weekend primaries in Wisconsin and Hawaii, his
native state, as Americans focus on how his campaign
is soaring and Clinton's is flagging.
But by the time
Ohio and Texas vote -- if she does not win Wisconsin or
Hawaii -- four weeks would have passed without a victory,
and Obama's momentum could be hard to overcome.
Obama has pulled
ahead in fund-raising, leaving Clinton to lend money to
her own campaign to try to stay close. Her campaign advisers
said Wednesday that her fundraising was rebounding at
a rate of $1 million a day online.
The outcome of
the contests last Tuesday indicated that Obama is tapping
into Clinton's political base, with stronger support from
the elderly, the middle class, and white voters _
Obama got another
boost Thursday when former Rhode Island Republican
senator Lincoln Chafee endorsed him as the best presidential
candidate to restore the nation's credibility. Rhode
Island also holds its Democratic and Republican
primaries on March 4.
to Republican House members on Wednesday for help
rallying conservatives, who so far have been lukewarm at
best in their support of the Arizona senator. He said
they had pledged to work with him.
considered a maverick who has broken with some conservative
Republican stances on immigration, gay rights, and campaign
finance reform. The veteran senator's victories
Tuesday in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.,
allowed him to save face after embarrassing losses to
rival Mike Huckabee last weekend. McCain has, however, been
a staunch supporter of the Iraq War and recently
praised former Bush adviser Karl Rove.
McCain leads the
overall race for the nomination with 843 delegates, to
242 for Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and ordained
Baptist minister who is a favorite among Christian
It takes 1,191
delegates to clinch the Republican nomination at the
party's convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, and McCain
appears to be on track to reach the target by late