Clinton Beats Obama in Texas and Ohio; McCain Clinches Republican Nomination

Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) addresses her supporters from Columbus, Ohio after Tuesday's primary election results filter in. Video by AP
By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won critically important victories in Ohio and Texas last night, defying predictions of an imminent end to her presidential candidacy and extending the remarkable contest for the Democratic nomination to Pennsylvania's April primary and perhaps well into the summer.

Clinton also won in Rhode Island, while Sen. Barack Obama captured Vermont. Her victories snapped his winning streak at 12 consecutive contests, rejuvenated her struggling candidacy and jolted a Democratic Party establishment that was beginning to see Obama as the likely nominee.

Clinton still faces daunting odds in her bid for the nomination. Obama began the day with a lead in pledged delegates that will be hard for her to overcome in the 12 primaries and caucus remaining, despite the results from the four states voting yesterday. But her advisers said that the big win in Ohio alone would force a serious look at both candidates and that the race was far from over.

Yesterday's voting came after two weeks of intensive and increasingly acrimonious campaigning. Clinton, her back to the wall, played the role of aggressor, challenging Obama on his readiness to be commander in chief and chastising him on trade and health care. Obama attempted to fend off those attacks with the hope of scoring victories that his advisers were confident would drive Clinton from the race. But exit polls showed that, among late-deciding voters, Clinton had a clear edge.

Former president Bill Clinton had said earlier that she needed to win both big states to have a realistic chance of winning the nomination, and she delivered. But even before the Texas results were in, she made clear that she would continue.

"For everyone here in Ohio and across America who's 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," she said.

As the crowd chanted, "Yes, she will! Yes, she will!," Clinton said she is in the race to win. "You know what they say: 'As Ohio goes, so goes the nation,' " she said to cheers from supporters. "Well, this nation's coming back and so is this campaign," she continued. "We're going on. We're going strong and we're going all the way."

Obama, speaking in San Antonio before Texas was counted, congratulated Clinton on her victories in Ohio and Rhode Island, something she had never done during his winning streak, but he said her successes would not stop his march toward the nomination.

"We know this," he said. "No matter what happens tonight, we have nearly the same delegate lead as we had this morning, and we are on our way to winning this nomination."

As if to underscore his confidence about the nomination, Obama said he had called Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) to congratulate him on clinching the Republican nomination and said he looked forward to debating the future of the country. McCain, he said, "has fallen in line behind the very same policies that have ill-served America."

Later he criticized McCain and Clinton for dismissing his call for change as "eloquent but empty" and vowed to continue his campaign for change and a new politics in Washington.

A total of 370 pledged delegates were at stake in the four contests. Heading into yesterday, Obama had a lead of about 160 pledged delegates, according to the two campaigns. When superdelegates -- members of Congress, governors and party leaders -- were included, he held a slightly smaller overall advantage. Clinton would be hard-pressed to overtake Obama in pledged delegates in the remaining contests, but he cannot get to the 2,025 needed to win the nomination with pledged delegates alone, likely leaving the outcome in the hands of superdelegates.

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