( www.washingtonpost.com ) - Sen. Barack Obama said he had called Sen. Hillary Clinton this afternoon to congratulate her on winning the Puerto Rico primary.
But Obama, speaking to a large outdoor rally at the " Corn Palace," already seemed to be speaking of Clinton in the past tense, as he looks to the final primaries Tuesday, here and in Montana, to give him the delegates needed for the Democratic nomination.
"I just got off the phone with Sen. Clinton. She's going to win Puerto Rico, and I wanted to congratulate her for that," Obama said early in his speech.
After praising Clinton as a tenacious candidate, Obama added, "She is going to be a great asset when we go into November to make sure we defeat the Republicans."
After his speech in Mitchell, Obama plunged into the crowd to shake hands before his motorcade began the hour-long drive back to Sioux Falls for the flight back to Chicago.
Obama's rather leisurely pace through South Dakota and Montana -- he had just two public events today -- was another indication of how he sees the primary campaign as over, and is focusing on the fall.
On Monday, Obama heads to Oakland County, Mich. -- an area known for it's so-called "Reagan Democrats," swing voters also being targeted by John McCain.
Tuesday, as the final two primary polls close in South Dakota and Montana, Obama will be in Minnesota, another swing state, for a rally in St. Paul at the site where McCain will formally accept the GOP nomination.