Clinton sets low expectations for Wyoming, Mississippi

Published 11:41 pm Saturday, March 8, 2008

A day before Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama were to compete for a small scattering of delegates in Wyoming, Clinton cast herself as the underdog and said the odds are not in her favor.

Clinton’s campaign has sought to set low expectations for the Saturday caucuses in Wyoming as well as next week’s primary in Mississippi, states where her campaign believes Obama has a better shot at winning.

“I said, ‘Well you know what, I’m going to go to Wyoming anyway — I know it’s an uphill climb, I’m aware of that,” Clinton told an audience of more than 1,500 at a community college in Cheyenne. “But, you see, I am a fighter, and I believe it’s worth fighting for your votes.”

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She set a similar tone while campaigning in Mississippi Thursday night and Friday morning. She said a win for her in that state would be a heavy lift because of Obama’s appeal there. Twelve delegates will be awarded in Wyoming’s caucuses, followed by 33 on Tuesday in Mississippi.

The relatively small number of delegates in these states, not seen as important weeks ago, have gained value now that the race is down to a numbers game, following Clinton’s triple-win this week in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island, where she narrowed the gap with Obama.

Earlier Friday at a town hall meeting in Mississippi, where some in the audience were undecided or leaning toward Obama, Clinton raised the possibility that she might run with the Illinois senator on the Democratic presidential ticket.

Clinton said: “I’ve had people say, ’Well, I wish I could vote for both of you.’ Well, that might be possible some day. But first I need your vote on Tuesday.”

It was the second time this week that she has hinted at a joint ticket with the Illinois senator; he has not ruled it out but says it is premature to be having those discussions.

Obama is expected to do well in Mississippi largely because of his increasing appeal among black voters. Mississippi’s population is 37 percent black.

“I know that I may have an uphill battle here in the state, I appreciate that,” Clinton said.

Perhaps mindful that her audiences in Mississippi and Wyoming might view Obama favorably, Clinton has leaned more toward criticizing the Bush administration and has mostly refrained from direct attacks on her opponent, other than a few veiled references to him with phrases like “reality versus rhetoric” and “solutions over sound bites.”

She told audiences in both states on Friday that the Labor Department’s report on Friday showing a loss of 63,000 jobs nationwide in February is an alarming sign of economic troubles.

“The economic policies of the Bush administration are failures. People are out of work, and the work they have doesn’t pay what it used to pay,” Clinton said in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The Labor Department’s report also indicated that the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent as hundreds of thousands of people gave up looking for jobs. The jobless rate was 4.9 percent in January.

Job losses were widespread: in construction, manufacturing, retailing, financial services and a variety of professional and business services. Those losses swamped gains elsewhere, including education and health care, leisure and hospitality and the government.

Clinton, who supported the bipartisan federal economic stimulus plan, has said the plan’s immediate tax rebates are not enough to avoid a downturn. Among other things, she proposes extending unemployment insurance and investing in so-called “green collar jobs.”