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Obama campaign doesn't fear loss of Clinton voters

By Ken Kusmer Modified: September 4, 2008 at 11:03 am •  Published: September 4, 2008
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INDIANAPOLIS - Organizers for Barack Obama's campaign in Indiana predicted Wednesday that voters who gave Hillary Rodham Clinton a victory in the state's Democratic primary will not migrate to Republican John McCain because he selected Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Deputy Obama National Campaign Manager Steve Hildebrand, State Director Emily Parcell and former Indiana Secretary of State Joe Hogsett also told reporters during a teleconference that Indiana's 11 electoral votes were critical to their victory effort and that registering voters would remain a focus of their field efforts until the Oct. 6 deadline.

Clinton, with key support from Hogsett, Sen. Evan Bayh and other prominent Indiana Democrats, won a hotly contested presidential primary with 51 percent of the vote over Obama in May.

Hogsett dismissed the notion that Palin would erode support for the Democratic ticket among Indiana women.

"Hoosier voters will not select the next president of the United States based on the gender makeup" of the ticket, Hogsett said.

The Alaska governor accepted the vice presidential nomination Wednesday night at the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn. Indiana delegates there were sporting buttons proclaiming themselves "Hoosiers for the Hot Chick."

In Indianapolis, meanwhile, dozens of women gathered at a downtown business to watch Palin's acceptance speech. Indiana first lady Cheri Daniels and Susan Brooks, a former U.S. attorney in Indianapolis, were among those who attended.

"It's been a long time since we had a woman in this role," said organizer Claudia Cummings, a Republican activist and former national delegate. "It tells me there is great appeal by the McCain-Palin ticket."

In the teleconference, Hogsett said Obama had overcome any lingering bitterness from Clinton supporters by reaching out to them. He said internal polling showed Clinton supporters were committed to Obama.

"We are a united party not only around the country but here in Indiana as well," Hogsett said.

On the Republican convention floor, Art Levine of Fishers, Ind., waved a homemade sign with Palin's name superimposed over a heart. Levine, an alternate delegate who is a member of the Fishers Town Council, said the Alaska governor is the best thing that happened to his party in decades.

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