Difficult for Democrats, Prayer at work...

Behind The News
February 20, 2008 12:36:21 PM PST
The longest Presidential race in the history of the Universe, tonight is getting a whole lot more complicated. Hillary Clinton, not that long ago, was not only the front runner among Democrats for the Presidential nomination, she was seen as a shoe-in. But a funny thing happened 11 months before the party's nominating convention this August in Denver -- a Senator from Illinois with only three years on the job suddenly started winning.

It's now up to 10 primaries in a row, and Barack Obama's "big mo" cannot be understated. You can hear it in the way both Obama and Clinton are now speaking. There's a confidence in his tone, a hint of desperation in hers.

Of course -- that's no way to judge whether a person is qualified to be President. But in this televised, telegenic, marathon of a campaign world we live in, these things count for many people.

And in that way, Sen. Obama is on a course to November.

The hard count for delegates now stands at 1,355 for Obama, 1,264 for Clinton, with 2,205 needed to capture the nomination.

And now the next important contests, what they're calling Super Tuesday II -- Texas and Ohio, where the polls are anything but certain except for one thing: Sen. Clinton isn't a shoe-in for winning the states, like she once appeared to be.

Will she be forced to drop out if she doesn't win Texas and Ohio on March 4? Her husband, Bill Clinton, suggested she might have to. Will this nomination go into the convention up-for-grabs if she does win Texas and Ohio?

And what will become of the outcast delegates from Florida and Michigan - where Clinton won in primaries that voters knew wouldn't count because the National Party told them they'd be excluded if they moved up their primary dates? Which is what they did. Will Clinton demand those states' delegates be seated?

Lots of questions without answers, which makes this race so interesting. It's also what potentially makes it so tiresome. And it begs yet another question: Will people get tired of this race long before the fall election?

We'll have the latest from the campaign trail, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, more bad news about the economy, and confirmation that the Federal Reserve Board, the nation's central bank, believes the economy is substantially slowing.

The Fed lowered its expectations for economic growth this year -- lowered it from the forecast it made just last October; that's how fast the economy is seemingly falling.

Growth this year -- as measured by the Gross Domestic Product -- is predicted to be between 1.3% and 2%. That's down from last fall's forecast of 1.8% to 2.5% growth, which isn't much to begin with.

The Fed also said unemployment will increase substantially throughout 2008.

Happy New Year.

No surprise, then, that the economy remains Topic Number One in the Presidential campaigns.

And finally, a story about two fields you might not put together at first blush: business and religion. Jeff Rossen tonight takes a look at a growing trend -- perhaps fueled by the shrinking economy: praying for business, and for deals to come to fruition.

Jeff has the story of an increasing number of people trading in -- as Jeff says -- the conference for the congregation. Several groups have cropped up in New York City - prayer groups for executives. Jeff also meets a traveling Rabbi, who goes from business to business preaching the Gospel - er, I mean, the Talmud.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark and Marvell Scott double teaming for the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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