Struggling to win over more white Democratic voters, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama denied on Sunday that race would be a factor in determining the outcome of the presidential election in November, as Democrats mulled whether racial bias makes Hillary Clinton the better Democratic candidate.
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) gestures during a campaign stop in Kokomo, Indiana April 25, 2008.
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Obama said: "Is race still a factor in our society? Yes. I don't think anybody would deny that. Is that going to be the determining factor in a general election? No, because I'm absolutely confident that the American people - what they're looking for is somebody who can solve their problems."
Entering the 17th week of the gruelling battle for the party nomination, Obama and Clinton were campaigning in Indiana and North Carolina, which will hold their primaries on May 6.
Obama is well ahead in North Carolina and running even in Indiana.
As in Pennsylvania, he is consolidating support among African-Americans while she appears to be picking up white working-class voters in economically depressed towns as well as conservative voters in the rural areas and smaller towns.
After a string of wins in February, Obama has suffered badly in a rough, six-week contest with Clinton in Pennsylvania, which she won last Tuesday with the support of white working-class voters.
In Pennsylvania, Clinton won white union households and white Catholics -- two important Democratic blocs -- by about 70 percent to Obama's 30 percent. About one in seven Pennsylvania voters said race was an issue and that group voted overwhelmingly against Obama.
Obama is leading Clinton in the popular vote, states won and committed delegates to the party's nominating convention in August, but her recent victories in Pennsylvania and Ohio have raised questions about his ability to win white voters.
Obama acknowledged to the Fox News channel that he needed to do more to raise his profile among working-class voters.
(Xinhua News Agency via agencies April 28, 2008)