Clinton clinches Pennsylvania primary

A victorious Hillary Clinton convincingly kept her White House quest alive on Tuesday, triumphing over Barack Obama in Pennsylvania’s rancorous Democratic primary.

”Today here in Pennsylvania, you made your voices heard and because of you, the tide is turning,” Clinton told jubilant supporters after early results showed the former first lady beating Obama.

With 95% of precincts reporting, Clinton was leading with 55% of the vote to 45% for Obama in her bid to be America’s first woman president.

And with a 10% victory under her belt, Clinton rounded on critics who have called for her to quit the epic race, already the longest and costliest in history, to enable Democrats to rally round one candidate.

”You know, some people counted me out and wanted me to drop out,” she said, as the crowd loudly booed her detractors.

”Well, the American people do not quit, and they deserve an American president who does not quit either.”

Clinton aides quickly pointed out that she had been vastly outspent by Obama in Pennsylvania, raising questions about why the Illinois senator could not close the race as they battle to run in the November elections.

Obama (46) had already downplayed any likelihood that he could win in Pennsylvania, but pointed out that he had whittled down her lead from 20 points.

And as he conceded defeat on Tuesday he warned the battle was not just about defeating the Republicans and their candidate, John McCain, in the November polls, but what kind of party the Democrats wanted to be.

”We can be a party that thinks the only way to look tough on national security is to talk, and act, and vote like George Bush and John McCain. We can use fear as a tactic, and the threat of terrorism to scare up votes,” he said.

”We can be a party that says and does whatever it takes to win the next election. We can calculate and poll-test our positions and tell everyone exactly what they want to hear,” the Illinois senator continued.

”Or we can be the party that doesn’t just focus on how to win but why we should.”

‘The voters trust Hillary Clinton’

Clinton (60) badly needed a fresh burst of momentum ahead of the next round of contests in Indiana and North Carolina on May 6, which are followed quickly by the last six voting showdowns of the nominating marathon into early June.

”This was a big win tonight [Tuesday]. She won here in Pennsylvania. We were outspent three to one. They ran negative ads against her,” Clinton’s campaign chairperson, Terry McAuliffe, told MSNBC.

”And you know what? She overcame all that. Why? Because the voters trust Hillary Clinton,” he said.

Clinton had earlier played up Obama’s significant fundraising edge, which has allowed him to triple her advertising power in the north-eastern state.

”Maybe the question ought to be: ‘Why can’t he close the deal with his extraordinary financial advantage? Why can’t he win a state like this one if that is the way it turns out?”’ she said.

With neither candidate set to reach the 2 025 pledged delegates needed to win the nomination outright, Clinton was seeking to make her case to Democratic superdelegates, the top party officials who will effectively crown the nominee at the party’s August convention.

She is trailing Obama in the total number of nominating contests won, pledged delegates apportioned in those showdowns, the popular vote and the multimillion-dollar campaign financing race.

And her victory in Pennsylvania will not do much to cut into her rival’s delegate lead, as the state’s 158 delegates will be doled out under the Democratic complex system of proportional representation.

Obama now leads by 1 713 total delegates to Clinton’s 1 586, according to an updated tally by independent website

But Clinton’s victory is likely to bolster her argument to superdelegates that only she can solidify the Democratic powerbase and woo socially conservative working-class voters.

She also argues that only she can prevail over McCain in crucial presidential battlegrounds as the party bids to reclaim the White House. — AFP



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Stephen Collinson
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