Clinton's Wins in Ohio, Texas Keep Race Alive
What did Hillary Clinton win Tuesday? Simply the right to keep on fighting for the Democratic nomination.
The senator from New York won three of four March 4 primaries, including two big wins in Ohio and Texas — must wins for her.
As soon as the networks had called the Ohio race, but before the final result in Texas was known, Clinton appeared before a screaming crowd of supporters in Columbus. She didn't call herself the comeback kid, but the message was clear.
"For everyone here in Ohio and across America who ever been counted out but refused to be knocked out, and for everyone who has stumbled, but stood right back up, and for everyone who works hard and never gives up, this one is for you," Clinton said.
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois won Tuesday's primary in Vermont (and continues to hold a lead in the overall race for convention delegates). But Clinton stopped his winning streak at 12 contests and put an emphatic end to the talk that she might pull out of the race.
This nation is coming back, she said, and so is her campaign.
"The people of Ohio have said it loudly and clearly," she said. "We're going on, we're going strong and we're going all the way. You know, they call Ohio a bellwether state. It's a battleground state. It's a state that knows how to pick a president."
Obama now takes his campaign to Wyoming on Saturday and Mississippi on March 10. He's expected to do well in both states.
Clinton will set her sights on her final firewall: the big blue-collar swing state of Pennsylvania, which holds its primary on April 22.
Although exit polls show Democrats view Obama as the most electable candidate in a fall race against the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Clinton made the argument that the states she has won make her the stronger general-election candidate.
No candidate in recent history, she said, has won the White House without winning the Ohio primary. Obama, on the other hand, pointed to the simple math of the delegate count. He spoke in San Antonio before the final Texas results were in.
"No matter what happens tonight, we have nearly the same delegate lead as we did this morning, and we are on our way to winning this nomination," he said.
Although he failed to knock Clinton out of the race, Obama still acted like he expected to be the Democratic nominee. Like Clinton, Obama called McCain to congratulate him and to tell him he was looking forward to running against him. Obama never wavered from the theme of change that has carried him this far in the race.
"Tonight, because of you — because of a movement you built that stretches from Vermont's Green Mountains to the streets of San Antonio — we can stand up with confidence and clarity to say that we are turning the page, and we are ready to write the next great chapter in America's story," he said.
Obama's message was still resonating with voters like Michael O'Neill of Bastrop County, Texas.
"We need change," O'Neill said. "The main thing for me, I got drafted during Vietnam, I still don't know what for. We need to get out of [the Iraq] war, that's the main reason I supported Obama — he was against it from the start. And also, we need change. We had Clintons for too long, we had Bushes for too long, we need some fresh ideas in there."
But Clinton managed to rebuild her coalition in Texas and Ohio. According to exit polls, she won two-thirds of the Hispanic vote in Texas. And on Tuesday, white women returned to her side.
In Ohio, Mary Relatto of Columbus voted for her.
"I think she's an intelligent, smart woman who will lead this country where it needs to go," Relatto said.
In the final days of the campaign, Clinton attacked Obama on trade while campaigning in Ohio. On the trail in Texas, she questioned his ability to handle a foreign policy crisis. And she lambasted the media for being too soft on her chief rival.
That aggressive approach paid off. According to exit polls, she won voters who made up their minds in the last three days.