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Clinton Looks for a Kentucky Triumph

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton , D-N.Y., gives a thumbs up after greeting people at the airport in Bowling Green, Ky., May 18, 2008. (Associated Press)

By Perry Bacon Jr.
MAYFIELD, Ky. -- Can Hillary Clinton notch a second colossal blowout in eight days against Barack Obama?

Introducing the New York senator here, Clinton's state chairman Jerry Lundergan, also the former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman, called for a victory that was "bigger than West Virginia."

That may be tough; Clinton won in West Virginia by 41 points last week and recent polls here show Clinton with a lead of around 30 points. But the former first lady is making stops all throughout this state in an effort to drive up turnout, stopping in small towns like Mayfield (population 10,000), as well as targeting the big media markets around Louisville, Ky., and Cincinnati (much of Northern Kentucky watches Cincinnati television) with repeated visits.

Her focus on Kentucky also reflects essentially a concession of Oregon to Obama, as Clinton spent Saturday in the Bluegrass State rather than Oregon as originally scheduled. With thousands of voters having already cast ballots there earlier this month, Clinton had a limited chance to close Obama's lead in Oregon, which is around ten points according to most polls. Her husband and daughter are appearing at campaign events together in Oregon on Sunday before heading to Kentucky on Monday.

Obama has stopped campaigning in Kentucky, although his wife Michelle is supposed to appear in the Bluegrass State on Monday.

With a large lead here, Clinton has largely avoided criticizing Obama, instead focusing on President Bush, John McCain, China (she accuses the nation of cheating on trade deals and sending America "contaminated pet food" and "lead laced toys"), members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (she called OPEC a "monopoly cartel" and said "those nations are violating" trade rules) and of course "people on TV" who she says want her out of the race.

"Everytime they say it, something happens, the voters don't agree," Clinton told a cheering crowd of several hundred here. "What I'm hoping is that on Tuesday you're going to send a real message to a lot of those folks who don't want you to vote."

But even a blowout will leave Clinton far from the nomination; winning the bulk of Kentucky's 60 delegates would be largely offset by a strong finish by Obama in Oregon, which has 65 delegates. Obama leads by more than 150 delegates.

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 18, 2008; 5:56 PM ET
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