Barack Obama seems likely to move closer to securing the Democrat nomination for the US presidential election tomorrow. The latest primary takes place in Pennsylvania, and if Senator Obama can either beat, or come a close second to his rival Hillary Clinton, it'll all-but-guarantee that he'll be the one taking on the Republican contender John McCain in November's general election. His lead over Senator Clinton is already just about unassailable, and unless she can match the ten-point victory she managed in Pennsylvania's neighbour Ohio, her hopes will probably be over.
But even though he's on the verge of finally becoming the Democrat nominee, the long campaign is storing up trouble for Senator Obama. His recent remark that people in small-town America are "bitter" about job losses, and therefore cling to their religion and guns, has not been enough on its own to knock his campaign completely off course. But it, and other issues like it, may yet come back to haunt him in the autumn.
Over the months, several apparently minor incidents have cropped up, that the Republicans will gleefully throw back at Senator Obama in negative ads. He was spotted not putting his hand over his heart during the pledge of allegiance, his wife said she'd never felt proud of America until her husband began campaigning, and most seriously, his links to controversial preacher Jeremiah Wright were discovered (that scandal's already had plenty of rotation on Fox News and elsewhere).
Senator Obama may have inspired many Americans with his messages of hope earlier in the campaign. But the Republicans will do everything in their power to destroy his character, much as they did to John Kerry in 2004, Al Gore in 2000, and most famously, Michael Dukakis in 1988. With their candidate John McCain likely to make his own personal character the main part of his own pitch to the American people, things are only going to get tougher for Barack Obama.