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Clinton, Obama Look Ahead to Tight Fight
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Clinton, Obama Look Ahead to Tight Fight

Election 2008

Clinton, Obama Look Ahead to Tight Fight

Clinton, Obama Look Ahead to Tight Fight
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After a dogfight through more than 20 states Tuesday, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama are now bracing for a Democratic presidential nomination tussle that could last well into the spring. The April 22 vote in Pennsylvania might take on fresh importance.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Barack Obama may have a better chance of catching Hillary Clinton. Among Democrats, Clinton won the biggest states yesterday, but both candidates won a lot of those convention delegates who formally decide the nomination. NPR's David Greene reports on what the Democrats do now.

DAVID GREENE: So you wanted some closure in the Democratic race last night? It was not to be. In fact, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were so sure the evening would end with nothing decided that they figured they could come out and talk while polls were still open.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Democratic Presidential Candidate): Thank you all. Thank you.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Sen. CLINTON: Thank you so much. Thank you.

GREENE: Clinton gathered her supporters in a ballroom in midtown Manhattan. She ticked off some of the states she had already picked up - big states, like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and her home state of New York, and Oklahoma and Tennessee, states her advisers said showed she could do well in Republican territory.

Sen. CLINTON: And tonight, in record numbers, you voted not just to make history, but to remake America.

GREENE: When Clinton finished, confetti was sprayed all over the crowd, which included Debra Cooper. She works in real estate in New York and is a local Democratic committee woman. She said the voters who backed Obama might be making a mistake thinking he can be more of a change agent that Clinton.

Ms. DEBRA COOPER (Realtor): He's always coming at her from the right. And somehow people think that he's the idealist in the race, but she's just a practical idealist.

GREENE: Clinton, she said, is battle-tested in Washington and would know just how to work the system to make sure her goals - like universal health care -become reality. As Cooper was talking, Clinton's campaign chairman, Terry McAuliffe, jumped up on stage with news of more states apparently in Clinton's column.

Mr. TERRY McAULIFFE (Clinton Campaign Manager): The great state of Missouri…

(Soundbite of cheering)

Mr. McAULIFFE: …and the great state of Arizona are now (unintelligible). Thank you.

(Soundbite of cheering)

GREENE: This night just got a little better, I guess.

Ms. COOPER: Yes, much better.

GREENE: Are you worried that Obama picked up a good number of states, too?

Ms. COOPER: They're all small so far. California's the big catch.

GREENE: And California would break Clinton's way by the end of a roller coaster night - a night that became eerily reminiscent of Florida and Bush and Gore in 2000, because one of the states Clinton's campaign chairman was up on stage celebrating, Missouri, was called first by many news organizations for Clinton and then given to Obama. Another state, New Mexico, remains too close to call. Otherwise, Obama won the state count, 13 to Clinton's 8. But with Clinton winning bigger states, she appears to have edged Obama in delegates. Obama watched returns with supporters at a hotel in downtown Chicago. He, too, spoke while from out West were still pouring in.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): If there is one thing on this February night that we do not need the final results to know - our time has come.

GREENE: Obama framed the evening as another step forward in a march that seemed unlikely when he announced his candidacy in Illinois's state capital.

Sen. OBAMA: And today, on this Tuesday in February, in states north and south, east and west, what began as a whisper in Springfield, has swelled to a chorus of millions calling for change. It's a chorus that cannot be ignored, a chorus that cannot be deterred.

GREENE: Andrea Jones was part of that chorus. She voted in a church basement on the west side of Chicago. And as a woman, she was excited about the possibly of a female president, but her final choice was Obama.

Ms. ANDREA JONES: I voted him for because - not because of his color, not because his race. I voted for him because I believe in what he stands for. That's the bottom line - bottom line. I'm ready for a change.

GREENE: If neither campaign was declaring victory last night, both said they got what they needed, a delegate lead for Clinton, a majority of the states for Obama. Now, both camps are looking ahead - even way ahead. Clinton's advisors have even been strategizing about the Pennsylvania primary, which takes place April 22. David Greene, NPR News, New York.

INSKEEP: I'm flipping through a photo gallery of the candidates campaigning. There's John McCain with his hands on a supporter's shoulders, Barack Obama voting, Hillary Clinton in Chappaqua, New York, and more. You can find it at npr.org. There's a link right on our homepage.

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