Vote 08: Clinton, Edwards in Southland

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (KABC) With the California Primary just two weeks away, Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning hard in Southern California. They're focusing on the economic problems that affect many Californians.

The Republican candidates are making a big push in South Carolina.

Senator Hillary Clinton spoke in Northridge Thursday afternoon.

Clinton was an hour late getting to Cal State Northridge. The lines outside were tremendous. There were hundreds of people turned away.

All three Democratic candidates were in Southern California Thursday. It's a sign of how important the California Primary is on Feb. 5, because they are competing in a very close race on Saturday in Nevada in the Nevada caucuses.

They acknowledged the importance of the economy and the difficulties of the campaign.

John Edwards was near downtown L.A. as part of a multi-state tour. He appeared at a rally of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Edwards comes in third in the polls, and he's had trouble raising money, but he insists he will stay in the race until the Democratic Convention.

"I'm the underdog fighting against two hundred-million-dollar campaigns, and all I need to do is be heard," said John Edwards. "I am the candidate for the middle class. I'm the person fighting against entrenched moneyed interests."

The California SEIU endorsed Edwards, but that doesn't mean its members will vote for him.

"Still very undecided. Everybody brings something a little different to the table to me," said union member Richard Wyatt. "Of course Obama and Hillary are the frontrunners, but you can't count John Edwards down."

Hillary Clinton started her day at a Baptist church in Compton. Clinton recently had to defend herself against charges that she showed disrespect for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"So many heroic people, following the example that Dr. King set of nonviolent resistance, changed our country and changed the world," said Hillary Clinton.

Clinton repeated her program to stimulate the economy. Among her proposals, she wants to help homeowners with a 90-day moratorium on home foreclosures, and wants to freeze interest payments for five years on home interest rates.

"We're facing a recession in the economy," said Clinton. "Economists may define it one way or the other, but when people tell me what's happening in their lives, I know it's already arrived."

Barack Obama held another of his roundtable discussions, this one in Oakland, with single mothers and working moms, women like Sirena Rankin, who can barely make home payments.

"It's really hard being a single mom trying to have the American Dream, own a home, provide a good education for my daughter, but not have the ability to save money," said Rankin.

Obama says he has a plan. He wants to expand child tax credits, family and medical leave, and help people save their homes from foreclosure.

"We can't keep on talking about family values and then not really observe them in how government policy is made in Washington," said Barack Obama. "I intend to make sure that happens."

There was a court victory of sorts for Obama in Nevada. The casino workers will be allowed to caucus in nine of the casinos on the Strip. Some Clinton supporters had challenged the idea that they could be allowed to caucus at noon in the casinos in their place of work. Most of the culinary workers who endorse Obama also work in the casinos.

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