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On the Trail / TRACK MEET & GREET

A race with hurdles? No sweat

May 15, 2008|Robin Abcarian

A candidate and his staff can never be too careful when it comes to unscripted moments.

It was late afternoon on a recent spring day when Barack Obama visited a track meet at the University of Oregon. Obama stepped onto the track, surrounded by reporters and photographers, just as Virginia Tech runner Tasmin Fanning won the 5,000-meter race.

Obama crossed the field to congratulate a very surprised Fanning, who told him she's a big supporter. Then he strolled around the track, shaking hands and tossing Oregon T-shirts into the stands.

Although some in his entourage urged him to show his athletic prowess, Obama stepped gingerly over a hurdle. "I'd split my pants," he said.

But one of his aides, Jen Psaki, was less cautious. She opened a seam of her pants when she leaped a hurdle.

"We'll put him in that race as a 'did not finish,' " boomed the announcer's voice.

Obama smiled and responded, "I got my own race to run."

-- Robin Abcarian

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

A look at two states

Hillary Rodham Clinton trounced Barack Obama in Tuesday's West Virginia primary. Three months earlier, in neighboring Virginia, Obama won in a landslide. Part of the explanation may lie in the sharply differing demographics of the two states.

West Virginia primary (Tuesday)

Clinton: 67%

Obama: 26%

Other: 7%

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Virginia primary (Feb. 12)

Clinton: 35%

Obama: 64%

Other: 1%

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*--* Percentage of voters . . . West Virginia Virginia Who were 60 or older 33% 25% Who were white 96 61 Who were black 3 30 Identify as moderate or conservative 66 50 With income less than $50,000 55 26 With no college education 42 18 *--*

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Source: National Pool Exit Poll by Edison / Mitofsky

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