Clinton presses case after big Pennsylvania win
|Wednesday, April 23,2008 10:22|
|By Susan Page|
One day after soundly defeating Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Hillary Rodham Clinton pressed her case anew Wednesday that she is the candidate most capable of defeating Republican John McCain in the fall.
"I won that double-digit victory that everybody on TV said I had to win, and the voters of Pennsylvania clearly made their views known -- that they think I would be the best president and the better candidate to go against Senator McCain," Clinton said Wednesday morning in a CNN interview.
She also said she would "stay in it until the nominee is selected," and pressed the case the delegates she picked up in wins in the Michigan and Florida primaries -- two elections held on dates opposed by the national Democratic Party, which so far has refused to recognize the results -- should be seated at the party convention.
Clinton soundly defeated Obama in the Pennsylvania primary, a victory that keeps her uphill nomination bid alive as their battle heads into the final six weeks of contests.
Her win only nicks Obama"s lead in pledged delegates, but it does reinforce questions she has raised about whether the Illinois senator can appeal to white working-class voters and carry the big industrial states on which Democrats rely in general elections.
DEM RIVAL: Obama cites gains despite "uphill climb"
"You know, some people counted me out and said to drop out, but the American people — well, the American people don"t quit, and they deserve a president who doesn"t quit, either," she told cheering supporters in Philadelphia. "Because of you, the tide is turning."
Obama told a rally in Evansville, Ind., that the state"s May 6 primary could be critical. "Now it"s up to you, Indiana," he said. "You can decide whether we"re going to travel the same worn path, or whether we will chart a new course that offers real hope for the future."
As in New Hampshire in January and Ohio in March, Clinton managed to win a state where a loss would have intensified calls for her to cede the race. The six-week campaign featured beer, bowling and bruising attacks on Clinton"s character and Obama"s electability.
Bill Carrick, a Democratic strategist who is neutral in the race, uses a sports metaphor to describe some Democratic leaders who fear the increasingly negative contest is damaging the party"s prospects in November. "This is like finding out after the third overtime there"s going to be a fourth overtime," he says.
Clinton hopes to convince the party leaders who are uncommitted superdelegates that she"s better positioned to defeat presumptive Republican nominee John McCain — and that they should go against the wishes of pledged delegates by backing her.
One key: Overcoming Obama in the overall popular vote. He began the night with a 700,000 vote edge, excluding disputed contests in Michigan and Florida.
Obama wants the party to unite behind him to prepare for the fall contest against the Arizona senator. "There"s a sense of urgency about the time we"re losing," Obama"s chief strategist, David Axelrod, told reporters aboard the Illinois senator"s campaign plane.
Obama outspent Clinton on TV ads in Pennsylvania by more than 2-1, and his campaign is flush with $42 million in the bank while Clinton"s is strapped for cash, according to finance reports filed Sunday.
Clinton carried the Democratic base — women, seniors and blue-collar workers — and those who cited the economy as the most important issue. According to surveys of voters as they left the polls, she won six of 10 voters made up their minds in recent days. She carried gun-owners and regular church-goers.
Obama carried more than nine of 10 African-Americans as well as most college graduates, liberals, and those who cited the Iraq war as the most important issue. He won six in 10 of new voters.
The Pennsylvania Democratic party estimated that 52% of the party"s registered voters turned out — double the 2004 primary. That reflected the high levels of energy that remain in a long contest that will nominate either the first woman or first African-American for the presidency.
Over the next six weeks, seven states plus Guam and Puerto Rico hold contests. Obama is favored in North Carolina, Oregon and South Dakota while Clinton is favored in West Virginia and Kentucky. Indiana and Montana are up for grabs.
Before the polls closed, Clinton was asked her plans for Wednesday. "To get up and go to Indiana," she replied.