By Peter Slevin and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 24, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS. April 23 -- Coming off a convincing win in Pennsylvania, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton recorded her best fundraising day of the campaign, and she will need the money for what is being framed as a do-or-die contest in Indiana two weeks from now.
More than $10 million flowed into Clinton's nearly empty campaign accounts after the results of Pennsylvania's Democratic primary were announced Tuesday night, her aides said. That amount represented half of what she raised in all of March.
"You know, we were up late, but it sure was worth waiting for," Clinton told several hundred supporters standing in 80-degree heat here. "I'm going to be here for the next two weeks, doing everything I can to help Hoosiers understand that I will be there for you and you can count on me."
Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) continues to hold a substantial lead over Clinton in the Democratic delegate count, despite estimates that show her with a net gain of 12 delegates from Pennsylvania. He hopes on May 6 to make up for the delegates and popular votes he lost Tuesday by winning big in North Carolina and by scratching out a victory in what is expected to be a highly competitive race in Indiana.
Underscoring the importance of Indiana and its 72 pledged delegates, Obama flew on Tuesday night from Philadelphia straight to Evansville to rally 7,400 supporters at a basketball arena. He flew home to Chicago overnight, then jetted back to New Albany, Ind., on Wednesday morning for a town hall meeting.
At both events, Obama told voters that the stakes are high and that Indiana's balloting could prove pivotal. Although he has said he expects the marathon Democratic campaign to stretch into June, his staff reminded reporters that an Obama win here would leave Clinton with virtually no chance to catch him in the delegate count.
"Now it's up to you, Indiana," Obama told the cheering crowd in Evansville. "You can decide whether we're going to travel the same worn path, or whether we chart a new course that offers real hope for the future."
After a string of months in which Obama decisively outraised and outspent Clinton, the campaign of the senator from New York has been fielding questions about whether she would have enough money to press on through the next two weeks. Early in the year, Clinton had lent her campaign $5 million to keep it afloat.
The campaign recently took the drastic step of turning the home page of Clinton's Web site into a contribution page that urges potential donors to "Keep the momentum going!"
"This should put to rest once and for all the question of whether Hillary Clinton will have the resources to compete," said Hassan Nemazee, a co-chair of her fundraising effort. "I can definitively state she will have the resources to compete in all the events through June 3."
Clinton, trying to persuade superdelegates to commit to her their votes at the Democratic National Convention in late August, added a new line to her stump speech. She told the crowd: "I have received more votes by the people who have voted than anybody else. I am proud of that, because it's a very close race."
In making that assertion, Clinton included votes cast in Michigan, where her name was on the ballot but Obama's was not. She also estimated caucus participation and included votes cast in Florida, where no Democrat campaigned. Before the voting began in either state, the Democratic National Committee had announced that the results would not count because the states had moved their primaries up in violation of party rules.
Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, rejected the Clinton team's contention: "It's very clear the superdelegates aren't going to have much tolerance for that."
Obama was equally dismissive when questioned by a reporter, saying, "We have simply been playing by the rules throughout this process. We think that if, at the end, we end up having won twice as many states and having the most votes, then we should end up being the nominee."
Amid the increasing negativity of tone in the contest, supporters on both sides said they remain committed -- in some cases, more committed than ever. Lee Buchanan, a New Albany attorney, said the Pennsylvania result could be deflating to some Obama supporters, but "it just makes me want to work harder to help him win."
In Indianapolis, retiree Dave Starker, a Clinton backer, said, "The mathematics are against her, but things could change over the next month. I think there's an outside chance."
Murray reported from the Obama campaign. Staff writer Matthew Mosk in Washington contributed to this report.