From NBC's Mark Hudspeth and Mark Murray
In a media avail aboard his campaign plane, Obama answered questions on a host of issues, including Spitzer's resignation, race, re-votes in Florida and Michigan, and the upcoming campaign in Pennsylvania.
On Spitzer: "Obviously, it's a tragedy. It's heartbreaking for the family, but I suspect that it would not have been possible to function as governor, that what he said is right, that he needs to spend time healing himself and his family." Asked in a follow-up question whether Spitzer should be prosecuted, he replied: "You know, I won't offer an opinion on that."
On race becoming an issue in the Clinton-Obama contest: "As I said yesterday, I do think it's unfortunate. It's not entirely unexpected. You know, as I've said before, race and gender issues are very powerful in our society. They've been an organizing principle of our politics since the earliest days of our country. And so it would be naïve for me to think that we could just brush them aside. And I know that sometimes Sen. Clinton and others accuse me of being naïve, but I'm not naïve enough to think that we're going to solve the country's racial problems, and some of these other divisions in the span of six months or a year. What I do think is that our campaign has pointed towards the future, an era where these distinctions are less prominent in our politics."
On the best way to solve Florida and Michigan: "I think [campaign manager] David Plouffe's been pretty clear about this. What we want is an opportunity for the Florida and the Michigan delegates to participate in the convention, to be seated. But ... what we don't think makes sense is, for example, the Michigan delegation to be seated when my name wasn't on the ballot. I mean, I saw an interview where Sen. Clinton suggested that we had competed in this race. I don't know exactly how she drew that conclusion, since I didn't step foot in Michigan and my name was on the ballot. So ya know, the notion that somehow it would be fair for her to obtain significantly more delegates than me in a contest where we both agreed it wouldn't count -- I wasn't on the ballot, and I didn't campaign there -- just defies logic. I think you could ask my 6 year old whether that was fair, and she would probably be able to say not that isn't."
Obama continued, "Our campaign has been in conversations with the Michigan delegation, the Florida delegation, and the DNC -- and talked about what options are out there. And I think they're gonna be explored over the next several weeks. We're not gonna make the final decision on it, and I'll abide by whatever rules the DNC lays out."
And on Pennsylvania: "The public poll most recently showed us down 20, and that was true in Texas and Ohio as well. It's been true in other states. So that's why we campaign. So we will go there, we will campaign vigorously, we will spend money, we will have staff on the ground, I will spend a lot of days in Pennsylvania. I think there's no doubt that Sen. Clinton is heavily favored there, but we're going to compete actively, and we're going to compete actively and we want to try to win the state like we tried to win every other state. You know, we have not selectively said which states are important. We think they're all important, and Pennsylvania is important. Now we do think the other nine states afterwards are also important, so we're going to be spending time there as well, but there's no notion whatsoever that we are ceding Pennsylvania. We're going to try to compete there as hard as we can."