Clinton and Obama Trade Victories
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won victories over Sen. Barack Obama in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York last night, giving her presidential campaign a crucial boost. But Obama countered by winning of a string of states, including the general election battleground of Missouri, in the seesaw race for the Democratic nomination.
The results ensured that the fierce contest for delegates will continue into critical primaries in Texas and Ohio on March 4, and possibly beyond, in what has become the party's most competitive race in at least a quarter of a century.
Clinton claimed four of the five biggest prizes in Super Tuesday's 22-state Democratic competition. She also captured Arizona, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Those victories helped stem what appeared to be gathering momentum around Obama's candidacy since he won in South Carolina on Jan. 26.
But Obama won in more places than his New York rival, racking up victories in his home state of Illinois, as well as Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah. His narrow victory in Missouri came after Clinton appeared on the brink of winning there. Only the outcome in New Mexico remained unresolved early this morning.
In many of the states Clinton won, Obama had surged from far behind to narrow the gap in the days before Super Tuesday. Her ability to hold off his charge brought a sense of relief to her campaign advisers, but the likelihood that neither would emerge with a significant advantage in delegates was a sign that their roller-coaster competition would continue.
Clinton appeared before supporters in New York shortly before the polls closed in California, thanking her supporters for voting "not just to make history, but to remake America." Saying that Republicans want "eight more years of the same," she added, "They've got until January 20th, 2009, and not one day more." She also presented herself as a candidate who "won't let anyone Swift-boat this country's future."
Obama, who was in Chicago, came out later and, while congratulating Clinton on her successes, drew a contrast with his rival, saying voters in November deserve a clear choice between the Republican and Democratic nominees.
"It's a choice between going into this election with Republicans and independents already united against us, or going against their nominee with a campaign that has united Americans of all parties, from all backgrounds, from all races, from all religions, around a common purpose," he said. "It's a choice between having a debate with the other party about who has the most experience in Washington, or having one about who is most likely to change Washington, because that's a debate that we can win."
Clinton and Obama were fighting not just for state-by-state victories but also for an advantage in the nearly 1,700 delegates up for grabs yesterday. Aides to both candidates said that, regardless of how the two carved up the states, neither would emerge with enough of an edge to claim a substantial advantage.
Delegate tallies lagged well behind the state-by-state results, given the complex formulas the Democrats use to determine the allocation.
Clinton's victory in Massachusetts was especially sweet for her campaign, coming despite endorsements of Obama by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry and Gov. Deval L. Patrick that gave him hope for substantial momentum heading into yesterday's primaries.
Her advisers called it "the biggest surprise of the night." Obama advisers had warned that Clinton's lead may be too large to overcome, but the loss was nonetheless a disappointment to his campaign.