INDIANAPOLIS — Barack Obama said he would “absolutely not” seek advice from Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Hillary Clinton expressed confidence the Democratic party would rally behind whoever gets its nomination as the two candidates made their closing arguments to Tuesday’s primary voters.
Both used nationally televised Sunday morning talk shows to appeal to voters in Indiana and North Carolina , which hold crucial primaries Tuesday.
Their hour-long appearances also featured clashes over Iran and gasoline taxes.
Clinton told ABC last month that should Iran attack Israel with nuclear power, “we will attack Iran ,” adding, “In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel , we would be able to totally obliterate them.
Obama, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” criticized his rival.
“It’s not the language we need right now,” he said, “and I think it’s language reflective of George Bush. We have had a policy of bluster and saber rattling and tough talk, and in the meantime have made a series of strategic decisions that have actually strengthened Iran .”
The candidates sparred as latest polls show a dead heat in Indiana and a 5 to 10 percentage point Obama lead in North Carolina .
Obama’s political hurdle was clear as he was asked about Wright, the controversial pastor who guided Obama’s church. Obama has distanced himself from Wright, but many voters have expressed serious concern about the relationship.
Obama was emphatic Sunday about Wright. “My commitment is to Christ, not to Rev. Wright,” he said.
Would you seek his counsel? Russert asked. “Absolutely not,” Obama replied.
Clinton was asked about her own potential political problem — that she could wind up winning the nomination but alienating African-American voters. Many blacks have said they would consider not voting at all if they felt Obama was unfairly denied the Democratic nod.
Clinton said she was not concerned. “Both Senator Obama and I have made it clear we will have a unified Democratic party going into the fall election,” she said.
Clinton also defended what’s become one of the most hotly debated issues in the two primary states—whether or not to suspend the federal 18.4 cent a gallon gasoline tax. Clinton wants the moratorium. Obama does not.
Obama Sunday called the idea a “classic Washington gimmick” and “a strategy to get through the next election” that would barely be noticed by consumers.
Clinton countered that people badly want some relief. “I am meeting people across Indiana and North Carolina ,” she said, “who drive for a living, who commute longg distances, who would save money.