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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 February 2008, 15:51 GMT
Jackson: Iraq is key
Jesse Jackson
They're going to be choosing between the Iraq War, which McCain embraces absolutely, and the Iraq War which both Barack and Hillary think was a mistake
Jesse Jackson

The Reverend Jesse Jackson, veteran civil rights campaigner and influential black politician feels that the Iraq factor will be key in swaying voters in the US presidential election.

In an interview with Jon Sopel for the Politics Show, he went on to say that America was preparing itself for change, and not just in the political sense.

He said: "America is getting more ready every day... [voters] are going to be choosing between the Iraq War, which McCain embraces absolutely, and the Iraq War which both Barack and Hillary think was a mistake."

Mr Jackson also felt that whilst the Clinton camp may find a certain historic favour with the black voter, Hilary Clinton will be up against a very "distinguished African American scholar, constitutional lawyer in Senator Barack Obama".

He emphasised that there was "unfinished business" for black voters.

"Look at the unemployment rate. Look at the college rate. If you look at the criminal justice imprisonment rate - there are 2.2 million Americans in jail - a million are black.

"It's a big deal. So we have some unfinished business."

The Christian vote

Ralph Reed
If Hillary Clinton defeats Barack Obama, how in the world is she ever going to win the black vote
Ralph Reed

Also on the programme, Ralph Reed, Former Head, Christian Coalition, maintained the importance of the "Christian vote".

"I think you could make the case that demographically and culturally," he said, "the United States is arguably the most religious nation in the world, with the possible exception of Israel and it definitely impacts our politics, it always has."

And on the black vote, he said: "If Hillary Clinton defeats Barack Obama, how in the world is she ever going to win the black vote?

"But the reality is that if Hillary Clinton does become the nominee and defeats Obama, they'll figure out a way to get their core voters on board."

And from a pollster...

Jon Sopel turned his attentions to Fritz Wenzel, Polling Analyst for Zogby International to see what he made of the contest so far.

His gut feeling was that McCain would come out on top for the Republicans: "He's more likely than Romney to be able to capture it. Nobody else really matters on the Republican side at this point.

"If Romney can hold on in California, then he could take this another month or so and perhaps further.

And with the Democrats, he felt that there was great deal to do: "It's much closer there because Democrats in America don't go state by state, they go congressional district by congressional district, much smaller, much more difficult to get a majority and much more difficult to get the nomination.

So we are definitely going to go at least another month.

But as a pollster he was fairly clear as to the outcome: "I can't really stick my neck out, but the odds are favouring Hillary Clinton and John McCain."

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