Obama on Bill Clinton, Pennsylvania and John McCain

By Nitya

Apr 22, 2008 12:08pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller and Nitya Venkataraman Report: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says he has "no idea" what Bill Clinton meant when the former president asserted this morning that the Obama campaign twisted his comparison of Obama’s South Carolina victory to Jesse Jackson’s for political gain.

"Former President Clinton dismissed my victory in South Carolina as being similar to Jesse Jackson and he is suggesting that somehow I had something to do with it," Obama said during a press availability in downtown Pittsburgh."You better ask him what he meant by that. I have no idea what he meant. These are words that came out of his mouth, not out of mine."

In a telephone interview yesterday with WHYY’s Susan Phillips, Clinton said "We now know, from memos from the campaign and everything, that they planned to do it all along."

Today, Obama said he doesn’t know what Clinton was referring to when he said that campaign memos show they were planning to do this all along.

Over a pancake breakfast at Pamela’s Diner with his wife and owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers Dan Rooney, Obama said that no matter the outcome of the Pennsylvania primary that he does not think the Democratic presidential race will be over today. "I have come to the conclusion that this race will continue until the last primary or caucus vote is cast," Obama said. "And that’s not far away."

The last Democratic primary races are scheduled for June 3.

Obama painted himself as the underdog in the Keystone State, that it’s been "an uphill battle" but that he’s "closed a big gap." (A Quinnipiac poll released Monday found Clinton with a seven-point edge on Obama in Pennsylvania; in mid-February, Clinton boasted a 14-point lead over Obama in Pennsylvania.)

Obama used the the morning press availability to address comments he made this weekend, suggesting that the three presidential candidates in the race — himself, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., — were all better choices for the White House than the current administration.

Obama disputed the notion that his point undercuts the Democratic race against the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

"I know that conventional, text book politics means that unless you completely demonize the other side then you are showing weakness. I don’t believe that," Obama said, "I think Senator Clinton’s suggesting that she and John McCain are the two people who are qualified to be commander-in-chief is probably something that could end up coming back to haunt us in November."

Obama continued, "I think to say that John McCain and some of his instincts may be better than George Bush’s — that’s a low bar."

Obama also said that former president Jimmy Carter’s meeting with Hamas "gave them a legitimacy that was unnecessary" calling for U.S. efforts to be directed toward "negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis".

"I think that President Abbas has indicated his willingness to make every effort to sit down with Prime Minister Olmert. I think that’s where our energy should go," Obama said.

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