Obama Turns Campaign Focus to McCain

Even Hillary Clinton speaks of her campaign in past tense: "It has been a joy."

May 10, 2008— -- What a difference a few days make. Sen. Barack Obama is talking like he's already won the Democratic primary and is now facing Republican John McCain.

"In a contest between myself and John McCain there is going to be a very clear choice," Obama, D-Ill., told reporters today.

Sen. Hillary Clinton's address in New York today had the wistful sound of a campaign nearing the end.

"I want you to know how grateful I am for your support and how much you have sustained me throughout this campaign," said Clinton, D-N.Y., adding, "It has been a joy."

Instead of attacking Obama, as she has done repeatedly in recent weeks, she spoke of party healing.

"We will have a unified Democratic Party and we will stand together and we will defeat John McCain in November and we will go on to the White House," Clinton said in New York.

What's happening? Analysts say the campaign has reached a turning point.

"[Obama is] beginning to aim the campaign at John McCain in a much more clear and forceful way," said Matthew Dowd, a Democratic strategist who is not allied with either campaign. "So to me it's the end of the primary process and the beginning of the general election campaign."

Just yesterday, Obama overcame Clinton's last advantage -- in super delegates, where he now leads.

And today, party leaders -- including House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina -- are declaring the race effectively over, as he told The New York Times, saying the rest of the super delegates will soon fall in line.

Some analysts say Clinton could bow out on a high note as soon as Tuesday, when she's favored to win in West Virgina.

"It's like the stages of grief, actually, and the first thing you do is denial and the next thing you do is you're angry and the next thing you are is sad," Dowd said. "Then you bargain and then you finally get to acceptance. So the question is how quickly does she go through those stages of denial."

In another sign the Obama campaign has turned to the general election, it has launched a series of voter registration drives like across the country, to get out the vote in November.

Obama now plans to campaign in states that have already held their primaries.

Officially, the Clinton campaign insists their candidate is no quitter, and she's still in the race through the last primary on June 3.