The Note: Mountain Hazard

"Hillary Clinton got to play the winner again Tuesday night with a symbolic victory in the West Virginia primary -- but her ultimate defeat only loomed closer," David Saltonstall writes in the New York Daily News.

Even the five uncommitted supers in West Virginia aren't budging: "Sen. Hillary Clinton's convincing victory over Barack Obama in West Virginia won't change the state's superdelegate count, at least for now," Jake Stump reports in the Charleston Daily Mail.

That was Obama talking to white, working-class voters even as West Virginia polls were closing -- in the classic swing state (though not in a swing area) of Missouri. "Obama tried to divert attention from the defeat by starting his inaugural tour of general election swing states, holding an economic town hall at a clothing manufacturer in Cape Girardeau, Mo., in a largely white, working-class county Clinton won comfortably in the state's February primary," Scott Helman writes in The Boston Globe.

"Senator Barack Obama is floating somewhere between the two major phases of his long campaign -- a political limbo that brought him to this Republican hamlet on the night of a West Virginia primary he was expected to lose," Jim Rutenberg writes in The New York Times.

"His visit here with garment workers in a district that President Bush swept in 2004 was an intended show of strength, with Mr. Obama affecting the manner of a general election nominee raiding opposition territory, the birthplace of Rush Limbaugh no less."

Huge headline in the Southeast Missourian: "Obama Focuses on McCain."

But Obama capped a tough night off with a couple of gaffes, per ABC's David Wright and Sunlen Miller. "Obama posited -- incorrectly -- that Arabic translators deployed in Iraq are needed in Afghanistan -- forgetting, momentarily, that Afghans don't speak Arabic," they report.

Obama then said that "agricultural specialists" are being diverted to Iraq instead of Afghanistan. "Iraq has many problems, but encouraging farmers to grow food instead of opium poppies isn't one of them," Wright and Miller report. "In Iraq, oil fields not poppy fields are a major source of U.S. technical assistance."

Obama turns his attention Wednesday to Michigan -- a symbolic stop where he's got substantive work to do. "Because Sen. Obama, who appears close to wrapping up the Democratic nomination, didn't compete in the Michigan primary, he needs to build from scratch the kind of political operation he has been assembling for months in other states," Doug Belkin writes in The Wall Street Journal.

"He also faces a state party that is sharply polarized, behind schedule and hamstrung by an ill-timed lawsuit," Belkin continues.

And: "Sen. Obama also has to navigate the tricky issue of how to deal with Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The Detroit City Council voted on Tuesday to launch an effort to remove him from office over an alleged sex and perjury scandal."

The Detroit Free Press' Justin Hyde recalls Obama's most famous previous trip to Michigan -- the one he casts as his "Daniel-in-the-lion's-den moment" where he pressed automakers on fuel-efficiency standards. "Those refrains will echo today as Obama visits a Chrysler plant in Sterling Heights, his first foray into the suburban center of the auto industry. Such statements may have helped Obama convince voters of his political courage, but they have left many industry insiders wondering why he cast Detroit as a heavy," Hyde writes.

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