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Obama Accumulates Delegates, Looks Ahead to Ind.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Barack Obama was already in Indiana by the time votes were counted in Pennsylvania, underscoring what his campaign had been insisting all along -Clinton's expected win in Pennsylvania didn't change his lead in votes and delegates.

Last night, Obama was in Evansville, in the suddenly important primary state. NPR's Don Gonyea reports.

DON GONYEA: A homegrown Indiana music icon warmed up the crowd at the indoor stadium in Evansville last night.

(Soundbite of song, "Small Town")

Mr. JOHN MELLENCAMP (Singer, Songwriter): (Singing) Well, I was born in a small town, and I could dream in this small town.

GONYEA: John Mellencamp, once a supporter of former candidate John Edwards, is lending a hand to the Obama campaign here. He played before a crowd whose spirits were dampened a bit by the election returns projected on the giant TV screens suspended from the rafters. But the audience was back at fever pitch when the candidate took the stage.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): Thank you.

Unidentified Group: Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama.

Sen. OBAMA: Thank you.

GONYEA: Obama began with the order of business that no candidate enjoys, and the reaction of the crowd underscored just how intense the feelings are in this battle for the Democratic nomination.

Sen. OBAMA: I want to start tonight but congratulating Senator Clinton on her victory this evening, and I want to thank the - I want to thank - no, no. She ran a terrific race.

GONYEA: But if Obama was being magnanimous in defeat, he also said this in the wake of a Pennsylvania campaign that featured relentless attacks on him by Senator Clinton.

Sen. OBAMA: It's easy to get caught up in the distractions and the silliness and the tit-for-tat that consumes our politics, the bickering that none of us are entirely immune to and it trivializes the profound issues: two wars, an economy in recession, a planet in peril - issues that confront our nation.

GONYEA: Obama also devoted a chunk of this primary night speech to Republican John McCain, who he said would merely continue the same Bush administration policies in Iraq and on the economy. If yesterday's win by Hillary Clinton wasn't enough to raise serious doubts about Obama's electability, it did underscore questions about why he still hasn't nailed down the nomination.

Last night in Evansville, his political strategist, David Axelrod, had this reaction when asked if Pennsylvania's result means voters are simply uncertain about Obama.

Mr. DAVID AXELROD (Obama Political Strategist): Six months ago, many of you were among the savants who were writing us off and saying that we had no chance. So, you know, the fact is we're accumulating delegates. We accumulated more tonight. The deal's going to be closed. It's just a question of when.

GONYEA: Senator Obama is hoping to answer that question in North Carolina and here in Indiana in two weeks. He continues to try to close the deal with a town hall meeting this afternoon in the Ohio River town of New Albany.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, Evansville. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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