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Obama, Clinton court working families

  Political and Legal  -   POSTED: 2008/05/01 16:26

Barack Obama teamed up with wife Michelle on Wednesday to court working families with a little kitchen table conversation about tax cuts. Rival Hillary Rodham Clinton hitched a ride in a pickup truck to a gas pump to illustrate the pain inflicted on ordinary families by skyrocketing prices.

Clinton was underscoring her call for a summer-long hiatus on collecting the federal gas tax by pulling into an Indianapolis gas station with sheet metal worker Jason Wilfing, 33, who pumped regular unleaded.

"Sixty-three dollars for just about half a tank," exclaimed Clinton.

Wilfing told Clinton that the high price of gas means his family won't be able to take an annual summer trip to Lake Michigan.

The Obamas headed to suburban Beech Grove, where they had lunch and chatted with Mike and Cheryl Fischer, hearing their stories of struggle. He's a machinist at a local Amtrak facility where 77 jobs are threatened this summer.

"They say it's not personal," Fischer said. "Yes, it is very personal."

Their tactics were different, but the goal for both Democratic presidential candidates was to connect with blue-collar workers who will play a key role in primaries Tuesday in Indiana and North Carolina. In addition to a frenetic campaign schedule, Obama is running about $2.8 million in ads in Indiana and about $2.5 million in North Carolina, oupacing Clinton's spending by about 2-to-1 in each state.

Clinton began airing new ads in the states this week. One that is running in both states points out that she has called for a freeze in foreclosures and a summer-long suspension of the gasoline tax and that Obama has opposed both steps. She also is airing an ad in North Carolina featuring noted poet Maya Angelou and one in Indiana that invokes the memory of her parents and growing up in Illinois.

Obama on Wednesday responded to Clinton's housing and gasoline price ad with a 60-second spot airing in both states. In the ad, Obama likens the benefits of a gas tax suspension to "half a tank of gas." Another ad in North Carolina focuses on education and urges parents to turn off the television set and read to their children.


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