Obama Turns Attention To McCain

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., smiles while speaking at a primary election night rally in Raleigh, N.C.,Tuesday, May 6, 2008, after sweeping to victory in the North Carolina presidential primary.
AP
Barack Obama's campaign on Wednesday weighed ways to bring the drawn-out Democratic nominating process to a close while mapping out a strategy that will involve campaigning in battleground states where primaries have already been held.

Obama's drive to nail down the party nod was buoyed with a double-digit win in North Carolina and a stronger-than-expected run in Indiana, where he almost overcame rival Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"Hillary Clinton may have gotten what she needed to keep her uphill quest for the Democratic nomination alive - but by the barest of margins," said CBSNews.com senior political editor Vaughn Ververs. (Click here to read Ververs' full analysis.)

Obama was expected to compete for the six remaining Democratic contests but to also turn attention to general election states, aides said.

Likely Republican presidential nominee John McCain has "run free for some time now" because of Democratic preoccupation with the ongoing primary fight, said Obama strategist David Axelrod. "I don't think we're going to spend time solely in primary states," he said. "We have multiple tasks here."

The Illinois senator was enjoying a rare down day in his hometown before returning to Washington, D.C., late Wednesday

He was expected to travel later in the week to Oregon, where he appears to hold the advantage, and then head to the Appalachian coal-states of West Virginia and Kentucky, where Clinton seems to have the edge. (Click here for the full campaign calendar.)

Meanwhile, in an e-mail to supporters soliciting contributions, Obama called his North Carolina showing "a decisive victory."

As for Indiana, "we did much better than all the pundits predicted, despite Republicans changing parties to support Senator Clinton, believing she would be easier for Senator McCain to defeat," Obama wrote. "Now is the time for each one of us to step up and do what we can to close out this primary."

Obama had 1,844 delegates to 1,688 for Clinton in the latest CBS News delegate count. He needs 181 more to secure the nomination. (Click here for the complete state-by-state tally.)

His campaign made broad suggestions that it was time for the 270 remaining unaligned superdelegates — who will determine the outcome of the race — to get off the fence, claiming the delegate math leaves little path for a Clinton victory.

"We think the Clinton camp has gotten away with a little bit of creating these alternative views of reality," said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.