Being near the end of the primary season, Mississippi Democrats probably never thought much attention would ever be paid to them.
But many never imagined how tight the race would be between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton this far into the campaign. The Mississippi primary is the last hurdle before the two rivals begin a six-week battle to win Pennsylvania delegates.
Thirty-three delegates are at stake.
Dissing the VP Notion
Obama spent the day in Mississippi, drawing enthusiastic crowds in Columbus and Jackson.
He answered speculation that he might accept the number two slot on a Democratic Party ticket headed by Clinton. He noted that he has won more delegates, states and votes than Clinton.
"I don't know how somebody who is in second place is offering the vice presidency to the person who is first place," Obama said, drawing cheers and a lengthy standing ovation from about 1,700 people. He added: "I am not running for vice president. "I am running for president of the United States of America."
Later, at a rally in Jackson, the state capital, with 9,000 people, Obama tried to portray the New York Senator as part of the Washington establishment whose time has run out.
The nation does not need "the same old folks doing the same old things, talking the same old stuff," he said.
It is believed Mississippi's large black electorate will place their votes to Obama. He has successfully taken other Deep South states and has pulled huge margins among black voters.
Clinton in the Keystone State
For her part, Clinton had moved on to Pennsylvania, which holds its primary April 22. With the Clinton campaign saying she has little chance in Mississippi, they focused largely on national issues.
She addressed a rally in Scranton, Pa., where she carefully sidestepped questions about the sex scandal threatening the political career of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer has proved a political ally for her.
"I don't have any comment on that," she said when asked about reports that Spitzer allegedly paid for sex with a high-priced call girl at a Washington hotel. "Obviously, I am sending my best wishes and thoughts to the governor and to his family," Clinton said.
Source: The Associated Press