Turbulence? What Turbulence?

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank and the washingtonpost.com's Akira Hakuta sketch a rally in Columbus, Ohio after Senator Hillary Clinton's victories in Tuesday's primaries.
By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, March 5, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio Hillary Clinton's campaign plane was flying above the clouds Tuesday evening en route to a primary-night celebration here when it unexpectedly hit severe turbulence.

Meal carts rolled, beer cans and debris flew across the galley, coffee and meals spilled in laps, and passengers in the aisle dove to the floor to secure themselves. "I need to get back to my seat before I hit the ceiling!" screamed one of the flight attendants.

The pilot finally regained control over the careening craft -- then, a bit late, thought to put on the "fasten seat belt" light.

And the candidate? "Sleeping and buckled," an aide from the forward compartment reported.

So it has been for Senator Clinton.

At monthly intervals -- Jan. 8 in New Hampshire, Feb. 5 in New York and last night here in Columbus -- the national media have assembled to observe Clinton's end, only to discover that the deceased still had a pulse. To Barack Obama, she must resemble some sort of poltergeist.

"I love funerals!" Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said with a guffaw Tuesday night after the early exit polls showed Clinton leading in the crucial states of Ohio and Texas. "You guys keep trying to bury us, but we keep rising up," he added, pretending to claw his way out of a grave.

"Rising up" may take things a bit far. There is still virtually no scenario that gives Clinton a lead in ordinary delegates after all the voting is done. But her ability to beat Obama in Ohio and Texas on Tuesday night gives her, at the very least, an excuse to postpone her burial until the Pennsylvania primary seven weeks from now.

Minutes after networks projected Clinton's victory in Ohio last night, the candidate, taking the stage under an avalanche of confetti, made it clear that she was in the race to stay. "For everyone here in Ohio and across America who's ever been counted out but refused to be knocked out . . . this one is for you," she told supporters here.

The candidate and her advisers, desperate to buy her time as she lost 11 straight contests to Obama after Feb. 5, had said she had to win in both Ohio and Texas to keep her campaign going. Yet when she visited a Houston polling station Tuesday morning, Clinton emphasized that she was fully prepared to stay in the race, no matter what.

ABC News's Kate Snow told her about a Washington Post-ABC News poll finding that Democrats "say you should stay in the race" even with a loss in either Texas or Ohio.

"Well," Clinton said with a smile, "never underestimate the intelligence of the voter."

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