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Race back at forefront of election

Well, Barack Obama should be one happy guy. His big victory in North Carolina has pretty much locked up the Democratic presidential nomination. It is now virtually impossible for Hillary Clinton to defeat him in the popular vote or in the elected delegate category.

Thus, Obama has the nomination won unless another Rev. Wright crawls into the picture. Spinners who talk about re-votes in Florida and Michigan are dreaming; that will not happen. The Obama campaign would be foolish to participate. They played by the Democratic Party's rules and won. They're not going to sanction do-overs.

Also, as Al Sharpton told me, any kind of superdelegate shenanigans will lead to massive demonstrations at the Democratic Convention in Denver, which would be disastrous for the party.

So Obama seems to be in.

Now comes the hard part - convincing Americans that he is the best choice for president without all heck breaking loose on the race front.

Thanks in part to Wright's now immortal ""the U.S. of KKK' remark, the race factor has emerged big-time in this election. If you don't believe me, just look at the vote in North Carolina and Indiana.

About 60 percent of whites voted for Clinton, as opposed to an astounding 90 percent of blacks pulling the lever for Obama. And working-class whites went even bigger for Clinton. No question there is a racial divide.

Accepting that, Obama has two basic problems in the race arena. First, militant blacks reinforce negativity on race issues, and these pinheads just keep popping up. In addition to Wright, Philadelphia preacher Derick Wilson wrote in the Philadelphia Daily News that Obama is a ""house Negro' for not supporting Wright.

Of course, that is insane, and a responsible newspaper would not have printed the lunacy. But in this hyperpartisan country, race-baiters will find a forum, and every time stuff like that gets exposure, racial animus comes back.

Obama's second dilemma is convincing skeptical white voters that he and his wife are sympathetic to their concerns. Let's be honest, few white Americans would tolerate Wright for five minutes, much less 20 years. And Obama's comments in San Francisco about blue collars seeking refuge in guns and church hurt him badly.

So the senator must clarify his philosophy without belaboring the issue. Even with his verbal eloquence, that will not be easy.

I do not expect Obama or Sen. John McCain to dwell on race, but surely some of their surrogates and the media will exploit the issue to the fullest. Any kind of perceived racial comment will be splashed all over the place.

That, of course, will be bad for the country and bad for the candidates. But it's coming. No question.

Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News. His "Radio Factor" can be heard from 1 to 3 p.m. weekdays on NewsTalk 1300 WIMO-AM.