THE DEMOCRATS| Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton holds events in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Sen. Barack Obama campaigns in Maryland.
THE REPUBLICANS| Sen. John McCain holds events in Maryland and Virginia. Mike Huckabee campaigns in Virginia.
QUOTE OF THE DAY| “I may be skinny, but I’m tough, too.” – Democrat Barack Obama, dismissing rival Hillary Rodham Clinton’s suggestions that he is not tough enough to handle the White House’s rigors.
STAT OF THE DAY| The Maryland State Board of Elections processed 28,048 new registered voters in January before the primary registration deadline, 16,419 of them between 17 and 24, and nearly 60 percent of the total.
SUMMARY| Obama narrowly leads McCain in general election matchup, Clinton and McCain even in AP poll … McCain challenges idea of trouble with conservatives, picks up nod from Bauer … Clinton says replacement of campaign manager reflects need for more staff … McCain turns down public matching funds for primary … Obama to start ads in Ohio, Texas, hoping to sustain momentum over Clinton … Huckabee brushes off calls to abandon GOP presidential race
Obama narrowly leads McCain in AP poll
WASHINGTON (AP) – Democrat Barack Obama has a narrow lead over John McCain in a potential presidential matchup, while Hillary Rodham Clinton is about even with the Republican front-runner, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll indicated Monday.
The survey is the first look at voter sentiment since last week’s Super Tuesday presidential contests around the country and Mitt Romney’s departure from the GOP race. Obama and Clinton are battling in a Democratic campaign that may take weeks or even months to resolve, while McCain, an Arizona senator, is the likely Republican nominee.
Obama led McCain in the poll by 48 percent to 42 percent when people were asked which one they would prefer if the presidential race were held now. Clinton got 46 percent to McCain’s 45 percent in their matchup.
The poll shows Clinton leading Obama in the race for the Democratic nomination, 46 percent to 41 percent. McCain is well ahead of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has remained in the Republican contest, by 44 percent to 30 percent. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has 9 percent.
The survey was conducted from Feb. 7-10 and involved telephone interviews with 1,029 adults. It had an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Bauer, Hensarling endorse McCain
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – Republican Sen. John McCain challenged the notion he is struggling to rally conservative critics as he picked up the endorsement Monday of evangelical leader Gary Bauer.
“We’re doing fine. We’re doing fine,” McCain told reporters in Annapolis, dismissing the notion that losses in Kansas and Louisiana on Saturday had hurt his campaign.
His campaign announced Bauer’s endorsement as McCain left Annapolis for Richmond, Va. Bauer, former head of the Family Research Council and founder of the Campaign for Working Families, unsuccessfully sought the GOP presidential nomination in 2000.
A well-known abortion foe, Bauer said in a statement that McCain “has dedicated his life to defending human rights around the world, including the rights of the unborn.”
McCain also picked up the support of Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group that helps shape conservative policy for the House.
In a statement Monday, Hensarling encouraged other conservatives to rally around McCain.
“I do not wish to gloss over our differences, as they are very real,” Hensarling said. “But the truth is that tepid support or indifference for Senator McCain is support for Senator Clinton or Senator Obama.”
Clinton insists campaign is strong
WHITE MARSH, Md. (AP) – Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton denied Monday that her campaign is in trouble after losing to Barack Obama in four weekend voting contests and replacing her campaign manager.
“I’m still ahead in the popular vote and in delegates,” Clinton said.
Speaking to reporters after touring a General Motors plant outside Baltimore, Clinton said she feels very good about the state of the race, even though she is not expected to win any victories between now and March 4, when voters in Texas and Ohio cast ballots.
The former first lady said the decision by Patti Solis Doyle to step down as campaign manager was personal and reflected the toll of the long campaign, not a problem with her job performance. Maggie Williams, a longtime Clinton confidante and former chief of staff from Clinton’s days as first lady, replaced Solis Doyle.
Clinton also addressed a campaign audience in the District of Columbia one day before the nation’s capital holds its primary. Rival Barack Obama is expected to win there as well as contests in neighboring Virginia and Maryland, in part because of his popularity among blacks who make up a significant portion of the Democratic electorate in each place.
Clinton acknowledged that many black voters face a “challenging” choice between her candidacy and Obama’s.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Clinton told the small gathering sponsored by the National Council for Negro Women.
McCain rejects primary public funds
WASHINGTON (AP) – Sen. John McCain, a passionate advocate of limits on campaign finances, is turning down government matching funds for the primary to free him to spend more money as he prepares for a general election contest.
McCain, who appears headed to win the Republican presidential nomination, sent letters to the Federal Election Commission and the Treasury Department notifying them of his decision to withdraw from the presidential election financing system.
McCain had asked to participate in the public system last summer when his campaign, his fundraising and his poll numbers hit a low point that threatened to unravel his candidacy.
Obama looks ahead to March contests
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) – Democrat Barack Obama, riding a tide of momentum that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to stem somewhere, somehow, announced Monday he is launching TV ads in Ohio and Texas, which hold crucial primaries in three weeks.
Obama begins airing one on Tuesday that features him discussing the death of his mother at age 53 from cancer and the cost of health care. The ad will air on English language broadcast stations in Texas, and plans are under way for Spanish-language ads.
Clinton also will begin TV advertising in both states Tuesday.
Earlier Monday at a campaign event, Obama said he is the candidate who can lead the country out of a long period of divisive and ineffective government, a theme he increasingly uses against Clinton, who was first lady for eight years.
Citing the Iraq war, global warming and economic worries, Obama told more than 17,000 people at the University of Maryland that he decided to run for president soon after entering the Senate because “I was convinced that the size of these challenges had outstripped the capacity of a broken and divided politics to solve.”
Having swept all five Democratic presidential contests over the weekend, Obama also was counting on wins in Tuesday’s primaries in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Huckabee intends to stay in
WASHINGTON (AP) – Mike Huckabee is resisting calls from some Republicans for him to abandon his presidential campaign
The former Arkansas governor said in an interview Monday on CNN that he will not step aside “as long as my guys are still waving the pompoms.”
Rival John McCain is all but assured his party nod after rolling up huge numbers of delegates, 719, to the national convention. Huckabee has 234.
Huckabee said that “the goal is to win, and nobody has 1,191 delegates yet.”
He also told NBC’s “Today” show that “it’s not a healthy thing for our party to sort of become lethargic, say it’s (the presidential race) is over, have a coronation.”