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Obama attacks Clinton over Iran

Barack Obama in Evansville, Indiana 5/5/2008
Pressing the flesh - Mr Obama wants to finish off the Clinton campaign

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has criticised his rival Hillary Clinton for her stance on Iran as "sabre-rattling".

Mrs Clinton said she had no regrets about threatening to "totally obliterate" Iran if it used nuclear weapons against Israel.

The two are courting voters ahead of two state primaries on Tuesday.

Polls suggest the contest may be close in Indiana while Mrs Clinton is cutting Mr Obama's lead in North Carolina.

Celebrity endorsement

The Illinois senator has received a publicity boost in the form of an endorsement from actor Tom Hanks, who said Mr Obama "has the integrity and the inspiration to unify us".

Hillary Clinton in Greenville, North Carolina - 5/5/2008
And kissing babies - Mrs Clinton says she is the better candidate

"As an official celebrity, I know my endorsement has just made your mind up for you," Mr Hanks joked.

Mr Obama leads the race in delegates ahead of the party's nominating convention in August by 1,743 to 1,607, according to an Associated Press count.

It is extremely unlikely that either candidate can now win the 2,025 delegates needed to win the nomination before the Denver convention, which means the nearly 800 super-delegates - party officials and politicians - will have the final say.

Wooing those super-delegates, Mrs Clinton has been saying she is the Democrats' best chance to beat the presumptive Republican candidate John McCain in November's presidential vote.

Mr Obama compared Mrs Clinton's position on Iran to President George W Bush's "foreign policy of bluster and sabre-rattling and tough talk".

"It's not the language we need right now," he said.

He also called her federal petrol tax suspension plan a "gimmick" that would "help big oil".

Speaking in Indiana, Mrs Clinton said she had no regrets about promising to "totally obliterate" Iran if it attacked Israel with nuclear weapons - a scenario that was put to her two weeks ago.

"Why would I have any regrets?" she asked on ABC television.

"I am asked a question about what I would do if Iran attacked our ally, a country that many of us have a great deal of, you know, connection with and feeling for."

She also defended her proposal to suspend petrol taxes for the summer, which she said a windfall tax on oil companies would finance.

"We can't just plan for the future, we have to help people in the here and now... We need to go after the oil companies," she said.

Final eight contests

Mr Obama's campaign was dealt a blow first by Mrs Clinton's convincing win in Pennsylvania two weeks ago and then by provocative remarks from his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

He narrowly defeated Mrs Clinton in Sunday's caucus in the tiny Pacific territory of Guam.

Because of the way the Democratic Party distributes the vote, each candidate won two delegates.

Mr Obama will now be hoping for wins in both Indiana and North Carolina to deal Mrs Clinton's revived campaign a knockout blow, analysts say.

But Mrs Clinton promised that Tuesday's primaries would be a "game changer".

After Tuesday, there are only six state contests left in the Democrats' long nominating process.


Electoral College votes

Winning post 270
Obama - Democrat
365
McCain - Republican
173
Select from the list below to view state level results.


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