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Super Tuesday: Make or break for the US presi -

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Super Tuesday: Make or break for the US presidential candidates

Broadcast: 05/02/2008

Reporter: Mark Simkin

Frenzied campaigning continues in the United States ahead of the historic 'Super Tuesday'
presidential primary.

Transcript

TONY JONES: There's frenzied campaigning in the United States, as more than 20 states prepare to
vote in an historic Super Tuesday showdown.

Opinion polls suggest Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are now neck and neck in the race for the
Democratic nomination, while John McCain is stretching his lead over the other Republicans.

One of the most important states voting tomorrow is New York and our North America correspondent is
there.

MARK SIMKIN: It's an unlikely political battlefield. Mother Zion is New York's oldest
African-American church. It's a place of prayer and passion.

GREGORY ROBESON SMITH, SENIOR PASTOR: But when the final victory is over, the whole congregation of
saints would be dancing...

MARK SIMKIN: It's also a place for politics.

GREGORY ROBESON SMITH: I want you to participate in the process. Voteless people are helpless
people. The issues are too great for us to not participate.

MARK SIMKIN: The preacher didn't endorse a candidate from the pulpit but outside his choice was
clear.

BARACK OBAMA SUPPORTERS: (chanting) New York State! Obama, Obama! New York State...

MARK SIMKIN: Gregory Robeson Smith worked for the Bill Clinton administration but he's not backing
the former president's wife, and he appears to have converted most of his flock.

BARACK OBAMA SUPPORTER 1: We are native New Yorkers and we are going to support the candidate we
believe is going to care for us.

BARACK OBAMA SUPPORTER 2: We have been struggling and struggling and struggling. We need a break.
We need a change. We need someone to come in and clean house. And we believe that we see those
qualities in Barack Obama.

BARACK OBAMA SUPPORTER 3: To me he's young, he's fresh, everything's all nice and fresh. Yes. We
are for...

BARACK OBAMA SUPPORTER 4: New ideas. We're welcome for change and to unify. That's the most
important thing. That he wants to unify the country.

BARACK OBAMA SUPPORTER 3: Yes, that's right.

MARK SIMKIN: New York is a key test for Hillary Clinton. This is the senator's home state and she's
picked up endorsements from many of its black leaders, including the pastor of a powerful church
around the corner from Mother AME Zion.

ROBERT SHAPIRO, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I think it's a crucial battleground if Hillary can't hold onto
New York. I would expect that there are other states she won't be able, she won't be holding onto
as well. And it'll be indicative of weakness of her support and the strength that Obama has been
gaining.

MARK SIMKIN: For the first time in a long time, big states like New York and California have a
serious say in the nominating process.

BARACK OBAMA SUPPORTER 5: I want to see a black president. I want to see a black president,
straight up.

HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER 1: A woman is more compassionate and think a little more, you know. give
a little more. Okay? And she's proven herself.

BARACK OBAMA SUPPORTER 5: Obama is for real. Jesse Jackson was a joke.

MARK SIMKIN: At this barber shop in Harlem, the passions are high and the patrons are divided
between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

There are similar arguments all over the country. More than 20 states will vote tomorrow. It's the
closest America's got to a national primary.

JERRY MAYER, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: This is actually more states in contention than in the
general election of 2000, 2004. On those election dates, the campaigns have been planning for about
three to six months to run in about 18 battleground states. All the other states were conceded to
one side or the other.

Well, here we have 22 states where Hillary and Obama are both going to be running campaigns.

MARK SIMKIN: For the candidates, logistical, financial and emotional challenges are intense.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I said I would not tear up.

(audience laughs)

MARK SIMKIN: The crisscrossing the country and spending tens of millions of dollars on TV ads.

Barack Obama took an unprecedented punt by running an ad during the Superbowl.

BARACK OBAMA: We're tired of fear, we're tired of division! We want something new, we want to turn
the change.

MARK SIMKIN: Hillary Clinton bought an hour of time on the Hallmark Channel, which is usually
reserved for romance movies.

HILLARY CLINTON: The stakes are too high, the future too important.

MARK SIMKIN: Despite all the money and all the campaigning, it's possible Super Tuesday might not
resolve anything for the Democrats. The latest opinion polls suggest Hillary Clinton big national
lead evaporating and Barack Obama is drawing level. These two historic candidates keep fighting it
out for weeks or for even months.

ROBERT SHAPIRO: Everybody says this is the most exciting election they can ever remember and I
think you have to go back to the 1930s or maybe as far back as 1928 to pick up an election that's
generated that much excitement.

MARK SIMKIN: The Democrats fight will go a few more rounds, but among the Republicans, John McCain
is stretching his lead and hoping for a quick knockout.

JOHN MCCAIN, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: I am optimistic about tomorrow and I hope we can do well enough
to hopefully bring this process to a close. If not, we'd be prepared to continue on in the
campaign.

MARK SIMKIN: Rudy Giuliani is out, and that's helping John McCain. But Mike Huckabee is still in,
and that's hurting Mitt Romney. They're splitting the Christian conservative vote.

MIKE HUCKABEE, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: My feeling is, if anybody should step aside, maybe Mr Romney
should. After all, he's the one who spent a $100 million to have the same market share that I've
had for $7 million.

MARK SIMKIN: Some Republican hardliners are sceptical though. They don't like the way John McCain
tried to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. A call for Guantánamo Bay to be closed and
oppose the CIA torturing suspected terrorists.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: McCain does have the Saint John of Arizona-type managing. And I was supposed to ask
him about his past record. McCain, you tell the truth about him and they think it's a personal
attack.

JERRY MAYER: I think John McCain is damaged goods in some ways, because he's not going to get a lot
of true believer conservatives. But I still think at the end of the day on Super Tuesday, he will
have so many delegates that he'll be unstoppable.

MARK SIMKIN: A few months ago, the former war hero was written off. Now he's on the verge of a
stunning victory.

Mark Simkin, Lateline.