A candidate and his staff can never be too careful when it comes to unscripted moments.
It was late afternoon on a recent spring day when Barack Obama visited a track meet at the University of Oregon. Obama stepped onto the track, surrounded by reporters and photographers, just as Virginia Tech runner Tasmin Fanning won the 5,000-meter race.
Obama crossed the field to congratulate a very surprised Fanning, who told him she's a big supporter. Then he strolled around the track, shaking hands and tossing Oregon T-shirts into the stands.
Although some in his entourage urged him to show his athletic prowess, Obama stepped gingerly over a hurdle. "I'd split my pants," he said.
But one of his aides, Jen Psaki, was less cautious. She opened a seam of her pants when she leaped a hurdle.
"We'll put him in that race as a 'did not finish,' " boomed the announcer's voice.
Obama smiled and responded, "I got my own race to run."
-- Robin Abcarian
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A look at two states
Hillary Rodham Clinton trounced Barack Obama in Tuesday's West Virginia primary. Three months earlier, in neighboring Virginia, Obama won in a landslide. Part of the explanation may lie in the sharply differing demographics of the two states.
West Virginia primary (Tuesday)
Virginia primary (Feb. 12)
*--* Percentage of voters . . . West Virginia Virginia Who were 60 or older 33% 25% Who were white 96 61 Who were black 3 30 Identify as moderate or conservative 66 50 With income less than $50,000 55 26 With no college education 42 18 *--*
Source: National Pool Exit Poll by Edison / Mitofsky