Economy Focus of White House Race

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The economy played front and center in the race for the White House, Monday.

While Barack Obama enjoyed some down time in the Virgin Islands, Sen. Hillary Clinton laid out her plan to stem the tide of rising home foreclosures.

Speaking in Philadelphia, Clinton proposed greater protections for lenders from possible lawsuits by investors, a variation of so-called tort reform.

For years, GOP leaders have called for restrictions on what they consider unwarranted lawsuits against businesses. Democrats have often resisted them because they say they limit injured parties' legitimate rights to redress.

The New York senator labeled the recent housing crisis -- a crisis of the American dream that could lead to a recession.

"If the Fed can extend $30 billion to help Bear Stearns address their financial crisis, the federal government should provide at least that much emergency help to families and communities address theirs," she said.

Clinton's four-point economic plan strikes a chord among working and middle-class families.

"Many mortgage companies are reluctant to help families restructure their mortgages because they're afraid of being sued by the investment banks, the private equity firms and others who actually own the mortgage papers," Clinton said.

Battle for Delegates

They are at the heart of Pennsylvania's primary, less than a month away and a demographic with whom Clinton has an advantage.

"There just does seem to be a certain reluctance of these non-college educated white men to support Barack Obama. They seem much more willing to support Hillary Clinton," Democratic pollster Mark Mellman said.

But Sen. Obama still leads with overall pledged delegates. And, since neither one can reach the magic number to clinch the party's nomination, they're now in a scramble over superdelegates.

Even that race has gotten dirty. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson -- a superdelegate and a recent Obama backer -- fired back at Clinton supporter James Carville over the weekend. Carville called Richardson's endorsement a betrayal.

"Mr. Richardson's endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing if appropriate is ironic," Carville said.

"I'm not going to get in the gutter like that, and you know that's typical of many of the people around Senator Clinton. They think they have a sense of entitlement to the presidency," Richardson said.

As the race between Democrats grows increasingly nasty, polls and pundits say that it will likely translate into an advantage for Republicab John McCain.

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