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By Aswini Anburajan
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — On the second day of his Indiana bus tour, Obama said the state could be a potential “tiebreaker” in the lengthy nomination process.
“I think Indiana is very important,” Obama said. “We’ve got three contests coming up in pretty big states — Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Indiana. They all have significant numbers of delegates, and they are states where Sen. Clinton and I are actively campaigning.”
“You know, Sen. Clinton is more favored in Pennsylvania,” he added, “and I’m right now a little more favored in North Carolina, so Indiana right now may end up being the tiebreaker. So we want to work very hard in Indiana. While Sen. Clinton has some advantages here, I benefit coming from an adjoining state.”
After Indiana’s primary on May 6th, Obama is favored in Oregon (May 20), Montana (June 3) and South Dakota (June 3). But Clinton is favored in West Virginia (May 13), Kentucky (May 20) and Puerto Rico (June 1).
Obama also had words of praise for Colin Powell today, returning the compliments the former Secretary of State had made about the would-be presidential nominee. Obama, at a press conference today, said he speaks with Powell “occasionally” and that he “knows him well.”
“Because he’s somebody, who I think has good judgment, loves his country, you know is somebody who’s council I actively seek,” he added and said the two were of like minds on the issue of withdrawal from Iraq. “This is not going to be a matter of just being able to say we are pulling them all out regardless of consequences. What I’ve consistently said is we’re going to get our combat troops out in a methodical, orderly, responsible way and there will be complications.”
He added, “I don’t think anybody who knows the situation there would think that it’s going to be easy or simple. It will be a messy process. That is something I signaled strongly when I was questioning Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker during the hearings this week.”
On another sticky issue of foreign policy, Obama refused to comment on former President Jimmy Carter’s trip to the Middle East.
“I’m not going to comment on former President Carter,” Obama said. “He is a private citizen, and you know, it’s not my place to discuss who or — who he shouldn’t meet with. I know that I’ve said consistently that I would not meet with Hamas, given that it’s a terrorist organization; it is not a state. And until Hamas clearly recognizes Israel, renounces terrorism and abides by or believes that the Palestinians should abide by previous agreements that have been entered into I don’t think conversations with them would be fruitful.”
On the recent demotion of Mark Penn in the Clinton campaign, Obama said he would have gotten “rid of them.”
“I think it was surprising to me that a high ranking, if not the highest ranking member of Sen. Clinton’s team would be engaged in business activities and lobbying that was directly contrary to a position Sen. Clinton had taken,” he said. “I’m not surprised that Sen. Clinton found herself in an uncomfortable position as a consequence, and I know that if staff of mine were putting me in that kind of position I would get rid of them.”
But he would not take a stand on the former President Bill Clinton’s recent comments on Bosnia, saying that his wife had misspoke and had been turned into a “Madahari” in the press.
“I’ll let the Clintons explain Bosnia,” he said.