Winning Streak Extends To District, Md. and Va.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Sen. Barack Obama swamped Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in Maryland, Virginia and the District yesterday, extending his post-Super Tuesday winning streak and forcing Clinton onto the defensive as the Democratic presidential race moves toward a showdown in Ohio and Texas on March 4.
On a day when there was huge turnout in the area, the senator from Illinois won Virginia with about 64 percent of the vote. In Maryland, where the polls were kept open an additional 90 minutes because of bad weather, he was winning with about 60 percent to Clinton's 37 percent. He was headed for an even bigger win in the District, where he was attracting about 75 percent of the vote.
The lopsided wins mean Obama will emerge with a clear majority of the 168 pledged delegates at stake in the area, as well as a widening lead overall among the more than 65 percent of pledged delegates who have now been accounted for nationally. When superdelegates are added to the calculations, Obama and Clinton are still in a highly competitive race, but Obama has seized the overall lead.
Obama's victories came after a weekend in which he decisively won primaries and caucuses in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington state and Maine. Those states gave him a boost after he and Clinton split the nearly 1,700 delegates awarded on Feb. 5, when 22 states voted in Democratic contests.
Speaking to an overflow audience at the University of Wisconsin at Madison last night, an ebullient Obama said: "Today, the change we seek swept through the Chesapeake and over the Potomac. We won the state of Maryland. We won the Commonwealth of Virginia. And though we won in Washington, D.C., this movement won't stop until there is change in Washington, D.C., and tonight we're on our way. At this moment, the cynics can no longer say our hope is false."
Obama had his most impressive night of the competition, not just in the size of his victory margins but in the breadth of support he attracted from men and women, young voters and old, African Americans and whites. The results left Clinton, the one-time front-runner for the Democratic nomination, in a deep hole.
Clinton, who has argued that change comes from action rather than rhetoric, was in Texas as the results were coming in. She did not acknowledge Obama's victories when she addressed a huge rally at the University of Texas at El Paso, but promised to make the coming weeks of the campaign a clear choice.
"You know, there's a great saying in Texas -- you've all heard it: 'All hat and no cattle,' " she said. "Well, after seven years of George Bush, we need a lot less hat, and a lot more cattle." Then in an apparent swipe at both Bush and Obama, she added: "Texas needs a president who actually understands what it's going to take to turn the economy around, to get us universal health care."
Obama's winning streak, his large margins and the prospect of more victories next week put Clinton in a tenuous position, despite the close delegate competition. Even before yesterday's results, Clinton had announced a team shakeup, replacing campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle with Maggie Williams, her White House chief of staff when she was first lady.
Last night, campaign officials confirmed that deputy campaign manager Mike Henry had resigned and will be replaced by Guy Cecil, who had been helping to oversee delegate operations.
Obama is favored to win next week's contests in Hawaii and Wisconsin. That will leave Clinton to look to Ohio and Texas to blunt his momentum, as she has done twice to his attempts to take control of the race.
Howard Wolfson, Clinton's communications director, said the campaign "will do as well as we can and fight hard for every vote" in Wisconsin. He added that the team remains optimistic about Ohio and Texas.