From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- Let the expectations game begin.
As Hillary Clinton kicked off a long day of campaigning in the Hoosier State Friday, her campaign painted the fight here as an uphill struggle.
State director Robby Mook cited a statewide Howey-Gauge poll, showing Clinton running behind Obama and said that was partly due to his being from a neighboring state. The most recent Howey-Gauge poll found, taken in mid-February, showed Obama leading by 15 points.
Still, Mook said the campaign was active in every congressional district and would be announcing new office openings in the coming days. Clinton is set to hold a press conference in Hammond, Ind., this afternoon to announce the endorsement of seven mayors from cities in the Western part of the state, bordering the Chicago media market, an area seen as favorable to Obama. None of the mayors are superdelegates.
Clinton, who trails Obama in pledged delegates, the popular vote and the number of states won, needs to do well in the remaining contests to bolster her argument that having won several of the biggest states and most recent states, she will be more electable. For at least the third time this week, the New York senator referred this morning to calls from some for her to drop out of the race, this time citing a poll by Rasmussen, an organization that does not use the preferred telephone interview survey method.
"There are some people who are saying, you know, 'We really ought to end this primary. We just ought to shut it down,'" she said to shouts of "No" from the crowd. " 'There was a poll the other day that said 22 percent of Democrats wanted me to drop out and 22 percent wanted Sen. Obama to drop out and 62 percent said let people vote until we finally know what the outcome is."
(Note that 22 plus 22 plus 62 equals 106 percent.)
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, who supports Obama, said in an interview today with Vermont Public Radio that Clinton "ought to withdraw" because she could not win enough delegates to win the nomination.
The swing through Indiana is part of a six-day tour focusing on the economy. It is designed to show Clinton is best prepared to manage the economy and deal with an economic crisis.
She spoke about manufacturing jobs at Mishawaka High School, hailing Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, a Clinton supporter, for the work he has done to help create jobs. She said she saw Indiana not as part of the Rust Belt but as a chance to build what she called a Manufacturing Belt and an Opportunity Belt. It was the kind of language she used while campaigning in economically depressed Ohio.
Clinton, who is campaigning today with "Rudy," actor Sean Astin (from movies like "The Goonies," "The Lord of the Rings" and "Rudy") also touched on her commitment to "fixing" NAFTA and to getting tough on China for manipulating its currency and for sending lead-based toys, contaminated pet food and other goods to America.
"We've got to stand up and say no more. We're not going to put up with that. We're going to stand up for American workers and American consumers," she said to loud cheers and applause from the crowd in the packed gym.
The former first lady also made a point of talking about what she described as the good times of the 1990s, when millions of jobs were created and more people were given a chance at a middle class lifestyle, she said.
"We had so many people who were enjoying the benefits of what turned out to be the greatest economic opportunity we've had in a very long time," she said. "We saw the typical American and Indiana family, seeing a gain of about $7,000 in income and, of course, there was a balanced budget and a surplus."
The senator spoke for about 35 minutes and took questions for another 15 minutes.