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Clinton and Giuliani Take Obama to Task

Barack Obama, in front of the Clarendon County Courthouse in Manning, S.C., made an unusually direct race-based appeal.
Barack Obama, in front of the Clarendon County Courthouse in Manning, S.C., made an unusually direct race-based appeal. "I never would have begun this campaign if I weren't confident I could win," added the senator from Illinois. (By Stephen Morton -- Associated Press)

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¿ "Sal" Mohammed, an Egyptian-born pharmaceutical engineer who has run for governor and Congress in Iowa and is now running for the Democratic nomination despite the prohibition against naturalized citizens becoming president.

¿ Albert Howard, a Michigan father of eight, who proposes to "return America's gold to Fort Knox and have it audited" and "make it illegal to implant RFID chips in human beings."

¿ Perennial candidate Caroline Killeen, a.k.a. the Hemp Lady, a superannuated but still vigorous former nun who has been running on marijuana legalization and environmental issues since 1976. She gives her contact address as the Peace Hostel on Via Valecchie in Assisi, Italy.

-- Alec MacGillis

GENDER AND RACE

Clinton and Obama Play Their Cards

On the "Today" show yesterday, Barack Obama criticized Hillary Clinton for playing the gender card in her discussion of the manner in which the other candidates -- all men -- criticized her in this week's Democratic debate.

But if Clinton has made her sex a key part of her run, Obama's campaign in South Carolina, the first state in the primary process with a sizable black population, is strongly emphasizing to Palmetto State voters that they could help elect the first black president.

"Now I've heard that some folks aren't sure America is ready for an African American president," Obama said in Manning, S.C. "So, let me be clear: I never would have begun this campaign if I weren't confident I could win. . . . I am not asking anyone to take a chance on me. I am asking you to take a chance on your own aspirations."

The candidate, who doesn't often make explicitly racial appeals, said: "Imagine a president who was raised like I was by a single mom who had to work and go to school and raise her kids and accept food stamps for a while."

Polls show one of the biggest barriers is doubt among blacks that an African American could be elected president. And in a recent video message, Michelle Obama made a glancing reference to fears among African Americans that Obama could be shot if he were the candidate, but she said: "Don't base your vote this time on fear, base it on possibility."

-- Perry Bacon Jr.


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