Presidential Candidates' Focus Shifts to California

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 31, 2008; 7:12 PM

Democratic and Republican presidential contenders focused on California today as they geared up for the most critical day of the campaign: next week's Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses in two dozen states.

A day after two key withdrawals narrowed the field for both parties, the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) reported raising $32 million in January, a remarkable amount that helps position him for a bruising primary battle ahead with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.).

On the Republican side, the candidates touted endorsements in hopes of gaining an edge before the Feb. 5 contests.

Following a debate last night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Sen. John McCain today picked up the endorsement of California's Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who hailed the Arizona senator and Vietnam War veteran as "a great American hero and an extraordinary leader" with a bipartisan approach to problem-solving.

Appearing with McCain and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani at a plant that manufactures solar energy products, Schwarzenegger praised McCain for his positions on fighting global warming, protecting the environment and ending wasteful spending in Washington. In addition, "he has incredible credentials in national security," and he has shown he is willing to reach "across the aisle in order to get things done," the governor said.

Earlier this month, Schwarzenegger had vowed to stay neutral in the race.

McCain lauded the Austrian-born former actor and bodybuilder as "a great American success story" and thanked him for taking the lead in addressing climate change.

"Governor Schwarzenegger, I commit to you . . . to hand our children a cleaner planet than the one we have today," McCain said. He said that would require "global cooperation," including the participation of India and China.

"Let's continue the debate on climate change; let's continue to accumulate the scientific evidence," he said. "But suppose that those of us who believe that climate change is real and that we must act and act immediately are wrong." In that case, "all we've done is give our kids a cleaner planet."

On the other hand, "suppose we are right and do nothing," McCain said. "What is our obligation?" Noting that the United States spends some $400 billion a year on imported oil, he added, "We can eliminate over time that dependence on foreign oil, and green technologies is one of the key ways in achieving that absolute vital national security requirement."

McCain's chief rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, also stayed in California today to campaign, scheduling events in Orange County and San Diego. He accepted the endorsement of Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.).

Obama's infusion of money -- more in a single month than he raised in the entire third quarter of last year -- enables the campaign to advertise at high levels in nearly all the Super Tuesday states, as well as in states with primaries to follow, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said this morning.

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