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Kerry: Limbaugh's 'tampering' gave Clinton IN victory
Nick Juliano
Published: Wednesday May 7, 2008

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Obama strategist also credits Limbaugh with Clinton win

After Hillary Clinton's squeaker victory in Indiana Tuesday night, opponent Barack Obama's advisers and surrogates are saying the only reason she won at all is because of meddling by conservative Hoosiers following the orders of talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

"If it hadn't been for Republicans taking Democratic ballots, he likely would have won in Indiana," Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said Wednesday on a conference call hosted by the Obama campaign. "Rush Limbaugh was tampering with the primary and the GOP has clearly declared they want Clinton as a candidate."

Kerry's statements regarding Limbaugh's meddling follow several e-mails from Obama's campaign to journalists and supporters pointing to the effects of his "Operation Chaos." The right-wing host began encouraging listeners to vote for Clinton, with the goal of at least prolonging the Democratic primary campaign and perhaps making her the nominee.

David Axelrod, Obama's top strategist, also attributed Clinton's two point lead in Indiana to Limbaugh's scheme, speaking to reporters Tuesday night , according to the Wall Street Journal.

“If we come up short, they ought to call a press conference tomorrow and thank Rush Limbaugh for the victory,” he said. “Because there’s no doubt if they do win it’ll be by a margin so narrow that the Limbaugh project will have given them the margin.”

Indiana exit polls showed that four in ten Democrats who said they would vote for McCain over Clinton in a general election nonetheless voted for Clinton on Tuesday; however, just twelve percent who would vote for McCain over Obama voted for the Illinois senator.

Citing this figure, the Obama campaign sent an e-mail to reporters Tuesday night arguing that 7 percent of the Indiana electorate could be attributed to the "Limbaugh effect" -- 41 percent of the 17 percent who said they'd vote for McCain over Clinton but still supported Clinton.

Axelrod also told reporters that Obama would no longer focus solely on primary states during his campaign trips. He said that he'd compete in the six remaining Democratic contests, but added that the campaign would focus on the general election "because likely Republican nominee John McCain had 'basically run free for some time now because we’ve been consumed with this.' He added: 'I don’t think we’re going to spend time solely in primary states.""

"Pressed by reporters whether that meant the campaign would make stops in general election states over the next month, Axelrod said: 'You could infer that from what I said,'" Timiraos added.

Axelrod wouldn't say whether he thought Clinton was out of the race.

“The fact that she lost… a large important state by a landslide and she’s struggling to hold in one where she was favored where this whole issue of white working class voters was front and center I think is pretty sobering,” he said.