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Dems make appeal to blue-collar voters

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  • NEW: Sen. Hillary Clinton talks about balancing work, family
  • NEW: Sen. Barack Obama call federal "gas tax holiday" a quick-fix
  • Clinton supports federal gas tax holiday; Obama does not
  • Former DNC chairman withdraws Clinton endorsement, backs Obama
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(CNN) -- The Democratic presidential hopefuls are telling voters they understand their financial pain as they try to woo the working class before next week's contests in Indiana and North Carolina.

Barack Obama is competing with Hillary Clinton for working-class voters in Indiana and North Carolina.

Sen. Hillary Clinton is trying to solidify her hold on blue-collar voters, while Sen. Barack Obama is trying to pull more of them over to his side.

Analysts say the blue-collar vote could tip the primaries either way.

The working class voters helped Clinton score a big win in Pennsylvania last week, and they'll play a key role in Indiana and North Carolina, which hold their contests Tuesday.

Both candidates targeted Indiana's voters Thursday.

Clinton talked about balancing work and family at a campaign stop in Brownsburg.

Joined by her mother and daughter, she stressed the need for equal pay for women.

Clinton and presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain, have called for a hiatus in the 18.4 cent-a-gallon federal gas tax between Memorial Day and Labor Day -- a period when vacationing Americans spend the most time on the road. Video Watch the candidates' campaign efforts in the Midwest »

But while Clinton says the "gas tax holiday"is necessary to give consumers immediate relief from soaring fuel costs, Obama calls idea a gimmick. Video Watch Clinton visit a gas station »

Obama has a new ad out in Indiana and North Carolina that blasts Clinton's proposal. Video Watch where the candidates stand on the gas tax »

"We could suspend the gas tax for six months, but that's not going to bring down gas prices long-term. You're going to save about 25, 30 dollars -- or half a tank of gas," he says in the ad.

"That's typical of how Washington works. There's a problem, everybody's upset about gas prices -- let's find some short-term, quick-fix, that we can say we did something even though, even though we're not really doing anything."

Campaigning in Columbia City, Indiana, on Thursday, Obama said, "people are more concerned about looking good for the cameras and for politics than they are at actually solving problems."

Clinton shot down the notion that the proposal is just a gimmick.

"Nobody is arguing it's an answer, but I find it frankly a little offensive that people who don't have to worry about filling up their gas tank ... think that it's somehow illegitimate to provide relief for the millions and millions of Americans who are on the brink of losing their jobs, unable to keep up with their daily expenses," she said.

The campaign trail has been full of blue-collar imagery this week -- the candidates have been eating lunch with workers, stopping at gas stations and touring factories as they gear up for the next contests.

Obama is ahead in North Carolina, but Indiana is all tied up, according to recent polls.

As the candidates vie for votes, their campaigns are announcing progress in the race for superdelegates.

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Joe Andrew withdrew his endorsement of Clinton and is backing Obama instead, the Obama campaign announced Thursday.

"Many will ask, 'Why now? Why, with several primaries still remaining, with Sen. Clinton just winning Pennsylvania, with my friend Evan Bayh working hard to make sure Sen. Clinton wins Indiana, why switch now? Why call for superdelegates to come together now to constructively pick a president?' " said Andrew in a letter released Thursday.

"The simple answer is that while the timing is hard for me personally, it is best for America. We simply cannot wait any longer, nor can we let this race fall any lower and still hope to win in November. June or July may be too late. The time to act is now."

The Indiana superdelegate served as party chairman from 1999 through 2001. He was appointed to his post by then-President Clinton.

Andrew had endorsed Clinton last year, on the day she officially announced her White House bid.


"I ask the leaders of our party to come together after this Tuesday's primary to heal wounds and unite us around a single nominee," Andrew said in his letter.

Obama's camp on Wednesday announced he picked up five more superdelegates in 24 hours. Clinton picked up four within the same time period. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Jessica Yellin contributed to this report.

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