Washington: Hillary Rodham Clinton scored comeback primary wins in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island, reviving her White House hopes and denting Barack Obama’s delegate lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. John McCain, an unflinching supporter of the war in Iraq, clinched the Republican nomination.
Clinton’s three triumphs on 4 March 2008 ended a month of defeats for the former first lady, and she told jubilant supporters in Columbus, Ohio, “We’re going on, we’re going strong and we’re going all the way.”
Obama won the Vermont primary, and sought to counter Clinton’s claims that the night had been a campaign-altering event. “We have nearly the same delegate lead as we did this morning and we are on our way to winning this nomination,” he told supporters in San Antonio, Texas.
He also led in caucuses in Texas that began 15 minutes after the state’s primary polls closed.
A final split of the 370 delegates at stake in the four states lagged far behind the vote count.
The onus had been on Clinton to break through after a string of setbacks left her fighting to keep her hopes alive of becoming the first female US president. Obama had won 11 straight contests going into Tuesday. Clinton’s supporters, including her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had said she had to win in both Texas and Ohio — both big states — to sustain her candidacy.
Her share of the Ohio vote was 55% in nearly complete returns, and the New York senator was winning nearly 51% in Texas. She won Rhode Island with more than 58% of the vote.
Obama was gaining roughly 60% of the Vermont vote.
Both Democrats called McCain — a Senate colleague — to congratulate him on his triumph in the Republican race.
In Tuesday’s four-state competition for delegates, Clinton picked up at least 100, to at least 77 for Obama. Nearly 200 more remained to be allocated for the night, 163 of them in the Texas primary and caucuses.
Overall, Obama had 1,466 delegates, including separately chosen party and elected officials known as superdelegates, according to the Associated Press count. He picked up three superdelegate endorsements Tuesday.
Clinton had 1,376 delegates. It takes 2,025 to win the nomination at the party’s national convention in Denver.
Clinton and Obama spent most of the past two weeks in Ohio and Texas in a costly, bruising campaign, with Clinton questioning his sincerity in opposing NAFTA, an unpopular free-trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, and questioning his readiness to serve as commander-in-chief.
Once considered the inevitable Democratic nominee, Clinton has struggled to counter Obama’s message of hope and change. Obama, seeking to become the first black president, has inspired huge electoral turnouts and amassed record-breaking financial contributions.
Even before polls closed, Obama said he expected the contests would continue through Wyoming and Mississippi over the next week and through Pennsylvania, the biggest single prize left, on April 22.
“All those states coming up are going to make a difference,” he said.
But Clinton’s task remains difficult. Democratic Party rules virtually assure losers a significant share of delegates, making it hard for Clinton to overtake Obama. Slightly more than 600 delegates remain to be picked in the 10 states that vote after Tuesday.