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Edwards, Giuliani Withdraw From Race
Obama, after spending Tuesday in the Kansas town where his grandparents lived, headed to Denver for a rally. Later, he went to Arizona, where he enjoys the support of Gov. Janet Napolitano but nonetheless faces stiff competition from Clinton.
Obama offered effusive praise for Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, as he campaigned Wednesday. "John has spent a lifetime fighting to give a voice to the voiceless and hope for the struggling," he told a crowd of 9,000 gathered inside the University of Denver basketball arena.
"At a time when our politics is too focused on who's up and who's down, he's consistently made us focus on who matters. . . .," he added. "John and Elizabeth Edwards believe deeply that two Americas can become one."
During his Denver speech, Obama used tough language to draw a contrast with Clinton and argued that she would unite Republicans against her rather than uniting the country.
"I know it is tempting -- after another presidency by a man named George Bush -- to simply turn back the clock, and to build a bridge back to the 20th century," he said in a paraphrase of President Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection slogan. "There are those who will tell us that our party should nominate someone who is more practiced in the art of pursuing power, that it's not yet our turn or our time. . . . It is time for a new generation of leadership."
Clinton's campaign e-mailed reporters, calling Obama's speech an "angry screed."
Clinton campaigned in Arkansas and Georgia. After her landslide loss in South Carolina on Saturday, Clinton focused on African American voters. She stopped to greet patrons, most of them black, at a Little Rock diner and then spoke to the National Baptist Conventions in Atlanta in the late afternoon.
Clinton, calling for "change with justice," invoked biblical phrases as she promised to end what she called the Bush administration's "epidemic of indifference." Leaders, she said, must "deliver real solutions to the real problems that our people are facing." That was about as harsh as Clinton got, striking a largely positive tone and dropping some of her more pointed lines aimed at Obama.
Clinton thanked Edwards and his wife "for their years of public service." But she said she had not asked for his endorsement.
"I think it is up to Senator Edwards to decide how he's going to participate, if at all, in the upcoming campaign," she said after an event at North Little Rock High School.
The question of an Edwards endorsement coursed through the Democratic campaign in the hours after word of his decision became public. The former senator from North Carolina has been in contact with Clinton and Obama in the past 10 days in private conversations that aides were reluctant to characterize.
Edwards has aligned himself with Obama as one of the two change-oriented candidates in the Democratic race. At times, he has harshly criticized Clinton as a politician who symbolizes the cozy relationship in Washington between corporate power and politicians who seek their money.