(CNN) -Barack Obama says the general election will begin after Tuesday, when Montana and South Dakota close out the Democratic primary season.
And when asked by reporters last night aboard his campaign plane if he will be the winner at that point, the Senator from Illinois said "I believe so."
By CNN's count, Obama is currently 48 delegates shy of the 2,026 now needed to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination. And he's 198 delegates ahead of his rival, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York.
Asked by reporters how he would handle the end game with Clinton, Obama said "I am sure we will have discussions with Senator Clinton and her team. Unless we have, you know it's technically not over until we have the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination. Once we have that number, we will focus on the general election."
Obama made his comments while flying back home to Chicago from Denver, following a three day campaign swing in New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado. Those three Rocky Mountain States are all considered battleground or swing states and should be up for grabs in the November presidential election.
BEVERLY HILLS, California (CNN) – Before heading to a Los Angeles fundraiser Wednesday night, John McCain spoke to reporters about news that Barack Obama is considering a trip to Iraq. McCain said he is happy his likely Democratic opponent is mulling it over and believes Obama would change his tune after spending some time in the country.
“[I was] glad to hear that Senator Obama is now, quote, 'considering' a trip to Iraq,” said McCain. “It's long overdue. It's been 871 days since he was there and I'm confident that when he goes he will then change his position on the conflict in Iraq because he will see the success that has been achieved on the ground.”
Obama’s announcement follows days of McCain and his allies blasting Obama for not having visited Iraq recently. The Republican National Committee even went so far as to post a counter on their homepage displaying the number of days it has been since the Illinois senator’s last trip in January 2006.
(CNN)–Here's your chance to be in The Situation Room. Submit your video questions to ireport.com/situationroom and your question could be used on the air.
This Friday, Wolf Blitzer will interview the former White House press secretary, Scott McClellan. He's out with an explosive new book, alleging that President Bush engaged in "self-deception" to satisfy his political needs, and that the Iraq war was sold to the American people with propaganda. Submit your video question now!
(CNN) - Barack Obama's campaign said Wednesday that the Illinois senator is considering a trip to Iraq before the November election, CNN's Candy Crowley reports.
Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain had strongly criticized Obama earlier in the day for not visiting Iraq in more than two years, and for turning down the Arizona senator's suggestion that the two should make a joint trip to the country.
“Senator Obama has been to Iraq once - a little over 2 years ago he went and he has never seized the opportunity except in a hearing to meet with Gen Petraeus," McCain said at a campaign event in Reno, Nevada. "My friends this is about leadership and learning."
Again raising the issue of Obama's willingness to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, McCain also said of the Illinois senator, "he wants to sit down with the president of Iran but hasn’t yet sat down with Gen. Petraeus, the leader of our troops in Iraq?"
Responding to McCain, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, "It seems odd that Senator McCain, who bought the flawed rationale for war so readily, would be lecturing others on their depth of understanding about Iraq."
Obama last visited Iraq in January, 2006 for a two-day tour of the country.
Compiled by Mary Grace Lucas, CNN Washington Bureau
CNN: Obama considers trip to Iraq
Barack Obama's campaign said Wednesday that the Illinois senator is considering a trip to Iraq before the November election, CNN's Candy Crowley reports.
Washington Post: Tony Blair’s Op-Ed: Leading On Climate Change
The climate change bill that senators are to begin debating next week is a hugely important signal of intent on behalf of U.S. legislators. Yes, negotiations could still alter the legislation. But the bill's core proposition is correct: Unless the United States radically reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, along with other major emitters, the damage to the climate will be irreversible.
NY Times: Obama Seeks to Clarify His Disputed Comments on Diplomacy
With his experience and leadership credentials under sharp criticism, Senator Barack Obama and his advisers are trying to clarify what has emerged as a central tenet of his proposed foreign policy: a willingness to meet leaders of enemy nations.
San Francisco Chronicle: Pelosi vows to prevent fight at Dem convention
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she will step in if necessary to make sure the presidential nomination fight between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama does not reach the Democratic National Convention – though she believes it could be resolved as early as next week.
Compiled by Mary Grace Lucas, CNN Washington Bureau
* Sen. Hillary Clinton holds two "Solutions for South Dakota's Future" rallies in South Dakota.
* Sen. John McCain holds a town hall meeting at Greendale Martin Luther High School in Greendale, Wisconsin.
* Sen. Barack Obama has no public events scheduled.
(CNN) - Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell – who has been one of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton’s biggest backers – said Wednesday that she would make a “far better candidate” than frontrunner Barack Obama in major swing states, but is “very unlikely” she will be the Democratic nominee this fall.
"I'm a realist, and I think most likely the superdelegates will give Sen. Obama the votes he needs," Rendell told Bloomberg Television Wednesday. "I don't think the DNC is going to fairly adjust what happened in Florida… So I think it's very unlikely that Senator Clinton can prevail. I think that means we're not going to field our strongest candidate."
Rendell again called for an Obama-Clinton ticket – assuming both candidates were in favor of the idea. The former Democratic National Committee chairman also laughed that he would make a great vice presidential pick for Obama: "I wear a flag pin, so [it would] be a balanced ticket," he joked.