Clinton Candidacy on the Line in Tuesday Primaries

Sen. Hillary Clinton heads into Tuesday's Democratic primaries in need of momentum after 11 straight losses to Sen. Barack Obama. Clinton, currently in Ohio, soon heads to Texas, and she's brushing aside questions about whether losses on Tuesday might lead to her withdraw from the race.

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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm Steve Inskeep.

One day before the primaries in Texas and Ohio, there's hardly a high school that is safe from a candidate's visit, as we're about to hear. Rhode Island and Vermont also vote on one of the last big days of the primary season - might be the last big day. It's a day when both parties could decide their nominees or come close.

NPR reporters have been following the top contenders, and gave us these updates on the races, beginning with David Greene in Ohio.

DAVID GREENE: One thing you learn from covering Hillary Clinton is what it's like not to sleep. After 11 straight losses, Clinton knows tomorrow could be a defining moment for her. And with the hours counting down, she's packing her schedule morning till midnight.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Democratic Presidential Candidate): Hello, Akron.

(Soundbite of cheering)

GREENE: At dinnertime yesterday, the scene was a high school in Akron. It was not a packed house. There were rows of empty bleachers, but the hundreds of people who gathered in the steamy gym ate it up when Clinton took it dig at Barack Obama.

Sen. CLINTON: Oh, you know, and I come and you got the bright lights and all the cameras and I give you this big old speech and everybody feels good and you walk out and you turn to your neighbor and you say, well, that was beautiful, but what did it mean? What's going happen? What can I count on? How it's going to change my life? Help my children? Give me a better future?

GREENE: There was a time a year ago when Clinton said her challenge was to reintroduce herself to Americans. She liked to say she's the most famous person you don't know. But that challenge isn't the priority anymore. Now, she argues that personal appeal shouldn't matter. She told the voters in Akron the election was really a kind of job interview.

Sen. CLINTON: So let me ask you all: Who would you hire to turn the economy around and be a partner for Akron and Ohio?

(Soundbite of cheering)

Sen. CLINTON: And who would you hire to make sure we get quality, affordable health care for every American?

GREENE: The stakes for Clinton are clear to her supporters. Buzz Brown is a business owner from Cleveland.

Mr. BUZZ BROWN (Business Owner): I don't think she should drop out. You know, what counts in this game is being able to do the particulars. Anybody can make general claims, but as she said here tonight, she's been there. She's done it. We're asking for big trouble - the Democratic Party is asking for big trouble to put a rookie in here.

GREENE: Brown's wife, Diana Clinsay(ph), worries that fellow Democrats might lean on her candidate.

Ms. DIANA CLINSAY: I am. I'm very worried about that. I'm afraid that there will be a lot of pressure for her to drop out. But I think as we go along until, the convention, I think that the appeal of Obama will become less and less when people really start to look at what he says. And I think we should keep her in.

GREENE: Clinton has insisted she's happy for now not to have the burden of being a frontrunner. Last night, she got to a hotel in Toledo just before midnight. She planned to be at a Chrysler plant this morning, talking to workers during a shift change just after 5:00 a.m.

David Greene, NPR News, Toledo, Ohio.

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