Clinton Prepares for Kentucky Primary

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Sen. Hillary Clinton's camp anticipates a big win Tuesday in Kentucky's Democratic primary. Clinton insists she will continue her uphill battle against Sen. Barack Obama until all voters are heard from.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michelle Norris. At rallies in Kentucky today, Hillary Clinton stressed her message that the Democratic race is not over. Kentucky and Oregon hold primaries tomorrow, and Senator Clinton is favored to win big in Kentucky. Still, Barack Obama is expected to take Oregon. And with that victory, he's likely to win a majority of pledged delegates, although not enough to officially win the nomination. Today, Senator Obama picked up another high-profile endorsement, the country's most senior senator, West Virginia's Robert Byrd, even though Senator Byrd's state chose Clinton by 40 points in last week's primary. In a moment, we'll hear why Obama spent the day in Montana.

First, to Kentucky, where NPR's David Greene is with the Clinton campaign.

DAVID GREENE: Sure, there's all the talk of dropping out. Hillary Clinton's been ignoring it by coming to places where she can still be the star.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Democratic Presidential Candidate): Good morning, Maysville. Wow, good morning.

GREENE: Maysville's a community in the hills of northeast Kentucky, along the Ohio River. Clinton came to an old gym where the girl's high school basketball team plays. Home of the Lady Royals was painted in blue above Clinton. She told a few hundred people that tomorrow's primary is important.

Sen. CLINTON: And I'm sure glad that nobody pulled the plug on this election before we got to Kentucky to let Kentucky have your say.

GREENE: As for the states that have already had their say, Clinton's said she's won some important ones. In fact, she said, they would add up to 300 electoral votes in a general election. Many of Obama's states, she said, are small and may go Republican, anyway.

Sen. CLINTON: My opponent has 217 electoral votes, including places like Alaska and Idaho and Utah and Kansas and Nebraska. And many of his votes and his delegates come from caucus states, which have a relatively low turnout.

GREENE: Clinton said she has a better shot at beating John McCain this fall.

Sen. CLINTON: So I'm going to make my case, and I'm going to make it until we have a nominee. But we're not going to have one today, and we're not going to have one tomorrow. And we're not going to have one the next day. And if Kentucky turns out tomorrow, I will be closer to that nomination because of you.

(Soundbite of cheering)

GREENE: Robert Hall was in the crowd. He's 78 and says he coached a boy's basketball team in this gym in the 1970's.

Mr. ROBERT HALL (Former High School Basketball Coach): Oh, yes. I coached here for years. Yeah, I took this team to state tournament.

GREENE: Any lesson that you learned from that that you would give some advice to Hillary right now, given where she is?

Mr. HALL: I believe I would say this, that don't give up. Just don't give up.

GREENE: Robert said he knows Clinton's down on the scoreboard and is getting pressured to throw in the towel.

Mr. HALL: If she does, I will be hurt over it, because I have watched her. I've seen her husband. Her daughter was in Maysville, I was with her. She's a very classy little girl. She's down to earth. I'm very, very fond of the Clinton family.

GREENE: Angie Teagarten(ph) was nearby, proudly wearing a Hillary Rocks button.

Ms. ANGIE TEAGARTEN: We're going to continue to be excited and to root for her and to get the vote out.

GREENE: At the same time, Angie said she has been preparing for the time when Clinton might have to step aside. I asked Angie if at that point, she'd be ready to support Obama.

Ms. TEAGARTEN: You know, I don't see myself not voting for a Democrat. But it probably would be hard. You know, I'm just - I just don't - I'm not a big fan of his, and I'm not sure, you know, what he stands for. And I don't really think that he's real clear on some things. But, I mean, you know, I'm not really thinking about that right now. But I definitely don't think - we cannot have a Republican in the White House again. I just don't think it's an option.

GREENE: These voters then bid Clinton farewell as she set off on a three-hour drive south. Her next stop was a little town called Prestonsburg, in the foothills of the Appalachians.

David Greene, NPR News, Maysville, Kentucky.

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