Obama focuses on economy after primary wins


Sen. Barack Obama blamed Washington and his Democrat and Republican rivals for the nation's economic woes on Wednesday, one day after racking up big primary victories. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton courted Texas voters, counting on the state to help her faltering candidacy rebound.

"We are not standing on the brink of recession due to forces beyond our control," Obama said in excerpts of a speech at a General Motors plant in Janesville, Wis. "The fallout from the housing crisis that's cost jobs and wiped out savings was not an inevitable part of the business cycle. It was a failure of leadership and imagination in Washington."

On Tuesday, General Motors Corp., reported the largest annual loss ever for a U.S. automotive company &

$38.7 billion in 2007. The loss largely was due to a third-quarter charge related to unused tax credits. Separately, GM was offering a new round of buyouts to 74,000 U.S. hourly workers.

Obama offered a litany of problems associated with Washington, where he has been a senator since January 2005.

"It's a Washington where politicians like John McCain and Hillary Clinton voted for a war in Iraq that should've never been authorized and never been waged &

a war that is costing us thousands of precious lives and billions of dollars a week" that could be used on infrastructure, job training and health care.

Obama surged to the fore in the delegate race for the party prize with resounding primary victories Tuesday in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. On the GOP side, McCain took another step in shoring up his credentials as the runaway Republican front-runner despite lukewarm support from the party's conservative base.

Clinton, considered the overwhelming Democratic favorite just a few weeks ago, was left to turn her attention to Texas and Ohio in an attempt to pump new life into her suddenly stumbling campaign.

Before flying into Texas, she told a Cincinnati television station that "Ohio is really going to count in determining who our Democratic nominee is going to be." She also declared herself the "underdog candidate" in the Wisconsin primary next Tuesday, the same day Obama's birthplace Hawaii holds its primary.

McCain told supporters in Virginia it is clear where either Obama or Clinton would take the country "and we dare not let them. They will paint a picture of the world in which America's mistakes are a greater threat to our security than the malevolent intentions of an enemy that despises us and our ideals."

The Associated Press count of delegates showed Obama with 1,223. Clinton had 1,198, falling behind for the first time since the campaign began. Neither was close to the 2,025 needed to win the nomination.

His victories Tuesday were by overwhelming margins &

75 percent of the vote in the nation's capital , nearly two-thirds in Virginia and approximately 60 percent in Maryland.

Obama moved past Clinton in the delegate chase on the basis of the Tuesday's primaries and newly released results from last Saturday's Washington caucuses. Additional delegates still to be allocated from his new victories were certain to add to his lead.

McCain's victory in Virginia was a relatively close one, the result of an outpouring of religious conservatives who backed Mike Huckabee.

The AP count showed McCain with 821 delegates. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who dropped out of the race last week, had 288. Huckabee had 241 and Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 14.

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