IN THE HEADLINES
Obama looking to clinch the Democratic nomination Tuesday ... McCain uses speech to pro-Israel group to criticize Obama on Iran ... Obama says on primary eve that he and rival Clinton will be 'working together' in November ... Clinton plans New York speech, rare departure from campaign trail ... Obama, Clinton try to wrap up nomination with American Indian votes
Obama working to clinch on Tuesday
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ Looking to bring finality to the Democratic presidential campaign, Barack Obama worked furiously Monday to win over enough superdelegates to clinch the nomination with the final primaries Tuesday.
Obama wants to formally kick off his general election campaign against Republican John McCain in a victory speech Tuesday night as the final primary campaign polls close in South Dakota and Montana.
"Senator Obama is trying to line up people that are going to come out for him tomorrow during the day so that he'll have enough that puts him over the top that he can declare victory tomorrow," said Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Altmire, one of about 200 superdelegates under pressure to take a side in the contest.
"He apparently is telling people that he has the numbers, and that's what's going to happen, at which point it would become moot what the rest of us do," said Altmire, who added that he will wait until after the final votes and make a decision by week's end.
Obama needs just 44 delegates to get the 2,118 that are needed to secure the nomination. Hillary Rodham Clinton would need about 200, an unlikely feat.
McCain criticizes Obama on Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Republican John McCain raised the specter of a nuclear Iran in a speech to a pro-Israel group, once again chastising Democrat Barack Obama for his willingness to meet with leaders of Iran and other U.S. foes.
McCain has criticized Obama for saying in a debate last year that he would meet leaders of Iran and other U.S. foes without preconditions. The Arizona senator argues Obama is naive and inexperienced to think that such a meeting would yield progress.
"It's hard to see what such a summit with President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad would actually gain, except an earful of anti-Semitic rants, and a worldwide audience for a man who denies one Holocaust and talks before frenzied crowds about starting another," McCain told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
He criticized Obama for seeming to suggest that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear program because the U.S. refuses to engage in presidential-level talks. McCain said the Clinton administration in particular tried to engage Iran for two years, even lifting some sanctions, to no avail.
In his speech, McCain also called for measures aimed at increasing pressure on Iran, such as severely limiting Iranian imports of gasoline, targeted sanctions such as denying visas and freezing assets and a worldwide campaign to divest from companies doing business with Iran.
Obama: He and Clinton to work together in fall
TROY, Mich. (AP) _ Barack Obama said Monday he and rival Hillary Rodham Clinton will be "working together in November" despite fears by some that the Democratic Party will be divided after the long and bitter primary campaign.
On the eve of the final two primaries, Obama told a rally and town hall-style meeting in this Detroit suburb that he understands there have been "some worries about whether the Democratic Party will be divided when it's all over."
"There's been thinking, well, are the Clinton folks going to support the Obama folks and are the Obama folks going to get together with the Clinton folks," said the Democratic front-runner.
"Senator Clinton has run an outstanding race, she is an outstanding public servant and she and I will be working together in November," Obama said. He did not elaborate.
Obama campaigned in Michigan two days after being awarded delegates for a state in which neither he nor any other major Democratic candidate campaigned. In fact, Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot. Both parties see Michigan as a key swing state in the general election.
Clinton plans New York speech
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ Hillary Rodham Clinton will give her post-primary speech in New York Tuesday night, a rare departure from the campaign trail.
Staffers who have worked for her on he ground in Puerto Rico, South Dakota and Montana have been invited to attend the event or go home for further instructions, campaign aides said. The New York senator had no other events Tuesday. She planned to address AIPAC Wednesday in Washington.
But she is under increasing pressure to cede the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama after the final primaries. There was a sense of denouement in the campaign. She planned to rally with husband and former President Clinton and their daughter Chelsea in South Dakota Monday night _ a reunion usually reserved for election nights.
Obama, Clinton woo American Indian voters
CROW AGENCY, Mont. (AP) _ In a tight Democratic race, American Indians living in poor conditions on isolated prairie reservations could have a pivotal voice in the selection of a presidential candidate. As a result, they're hearing a lot of promises from politicians: better health care, improved housing and stepped-up law enforcement in Indian country.
Their votes could be decisive in the last two Democratic primaries, Tuesday's votes in Montana and South Dakota, that Barack Obama would very much like to win to bring him closer to the Democratic nomination. He and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who would like victories just as much, are wooing the oft-ignored Indian vote _ which is small, but big enough to matter this year.
"Indian country could make the difference in South Dakota and Montana, no question about it," said former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, an Obama supporter who narrowly lost re-election in 2004 after campaigning extensively on reservations.
To get out the vote on reservations, both campaigns dispatched American Indian outreach coordinators to educate voters. The candidates themselves held several one-on-one meetings with tribal leaders.
"For a presidential campaign there has never been anything quite like this," Daschle said.
THE DELEGATE BREAKDOWN
Barack Obama: 2,074 _ 44 short of the nomination
Hillary Rodham Clinton: 1,917.5
Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigns in South Dakota. Barack Obama talked with voters in Troy, Mich.
John McCain spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's conference in Washington before stopping in Nashville, Tenn.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"I do want the superdelegates to make up their minds. And after tomorrow, there's no reason not to. Everything is out there." _ Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, in an interview with MSNBC.
STAT OF THE DAY:
South Dakota has voted Democratic for president just four times _ 1896, 1932, 1936 and 1964 _ since it joined the union in 1889.
Compiled by Ann Sanner.