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Obama plans 50-state voter registration drive

CHICAGO – Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is planning to unveil a “massive” voter registration drive, one that will reach all 50 states and seeks to boost confidence in him as a general election candidate.

A senior campaign official is expected to provide details about the effort in a conference call today with reporters.

But the candidate himself – or his speechwriters – apparently slipped up and included a reference to the effort in an address he gave to a union group in Chicago on Thursday.

“That’s why I’m so proud that today our campaign announced a massive volunteer-led voter registration drive in all 50 states to help ensure every single eligible voter takes part in this election so we can take back Washington for the American people,” Obama said at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place.

The appearance came on a day Obama was supposed to be enjoying rare time away from campaigning. Still, it afforded him a chance to spread his message in Indiana without ever setting foot in the state.

The speech was before an annual convention of the United Food and Commercial Workers, a union with more than 1 million U.S. members that endorsed Obama earlier this year.

But it also provided the latest example of his advantage in Indiana, where the May 6 primary is viewed as a critical test for Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton in their marathon for the Democratic presidential nomination.

A fifth of Indiana’s Democratic voters live in the Chicago media market, meaning both positive and negative news that Obama makes in Chicago is broadcast to those potential voters.

Obama will return to Indiana today, as will Clinton, who plans stops in Bloomington, Gary and East Chicago.

Campaigning in North Carolina, a state with strong military ties, Clinton emphasized her plans to improve life for veterans and said she wants to bring troops home from Iraq “as responsibly and quickly as we can.”

The New York senator tried again to link voting for Bush in 2000 to the idea of backing an untested candidate now, invoking Obama without mentioning him. “We cannot have a leap of faith or any guesswork in this election,” she said.

North Carolina also holds its primary May 6, a potentially decisive day in the former first lady’s quest for the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama is favored there, while the contest in Indiana is considered much closer.


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