CHICAGO -- With news of a new poll showing Hillary Clinton up big in West Virginia, Barack Obama heads there today - on the eve of the primary - for a town hall on veterans' affairs.
The campaign heads to the Mountain State today amidst discouraging poll results which show West Virginians are not ready to call the race for Obama. A Suffolk University poll taken over the weekend shows Clinton leading Obama by 36 points among likely Democratic voters. Possibly more disappointing to the Obama campaign, the poll shows 44 percent favor Obama while Clinton's favorabilty there is 70 percent.
These numbers come as no real surprise to campaign watchers, however, and Obama's schedule has reflected this. Today's trip to West Virginia is his first before tomorrow's primary.
Meantime, Obama has spent the past week, since his big win in North Carolina and close loss in Indiana last Tuesday, focusing more on John McCain and very little on Clinton. So, while tomorrow's predicted loss looms, he's unfazed since the reality is setting in that Clinton has virtually no chance of capturing the nomination at this point.
Campaigning in Oregon late last week and efforting to not sound overconfident, Obama mentioned his uphill battles in West Virginia and Kentucky, another state where Clinton is expected to perform well.
"We do not have this nomination locked up, so we are still competing. She is going to do very well in West Virginia. She will win these states in all likelihood by significant margins," said Obama.
Obama campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki explains, "We know that we are the underdog in both Kentucky and West Virginia. After almost two decades of campaigning in these states, Senator Clinton starts with a quite a head start. But we are going to fight hard to earn as many votes as we can get and hopefully overcome the institutional advantages she has."
Today, he will speak will speak to a group of about 1,000 people at the Charleston town hall meeting and there will be between 150 and 200 veterans in attendance. Obama will be introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V. and his wife Sharon. Rockefeller caused a bit of a headache for Obama earlier this spring when he suggested McCain disregarded Vietnam victims and had a fiery temper.
Obama has plans to campaign in Missouri, an important swing state for the Democrats next fall, tomorrow afternoon after an event in Lexington, Ky., another indictaion that his campaign has begun to focus on the general election.