Clinton wins WV primary, Obama still nomination leader
Hillary Rodham Clinton coasted to alarge but largely symbolic victory in working-class West Virginiaon Tuesday, handing Barack Obama one of his worst defeats of thecampaign yet scarcely slowing his march toward the Democraticpresidential nomination.
"I am more determined than ever to carry on this campaign untileveryone has had a chance to make their voices heard," Clintontold supporters as the scope of her triumph became clear. "Thisrace isn't over yet. Neither of us has the total delegates it takesto win."
With votes from 19 percent of West Virginia's precincts counted,she was winning 63 percent of the vote, to 30 percent for Obama. Obama looked ahead to the Oregon primary later in the month andto the general election campaign against Republican John McCain,but the defeat underscored his weakness among blue collar voterswho will be pivotal in the fall.
"This is our chance to build a new majority of Democrats andindependents and Republicans who know that four more years ofGeorge Bush just won't do," Obama said in Missouri, which looms asa battleground state in November.
"This is our moment to turn the page on the divisions anddistractions that pass for politics in Washington," added the manseeking to become the first black presidential nominee of a majorparty.
Interviews with West Virginians leaving their polling placessuggested Clinton's victory could be as overwhelming as any she hasgained to date, delivered by an overwhelmingly white electoratecomprised of the kinds of voters who favored her in past primaries.Nearly a quarter were 60 or older, and a similar number had noeducation beyond high school. More than half were in families withincomes of $50,000 or less, and the former first lady was wining awhopping 69 percent of their votes.
Clinton won at least 15 of the 28 delegates at stake in WestVirginia, with 13 more to be allocated.
That left Obama with 1,875.5 delegates, to 1,712 for Clinton,out of 2,025 needed to clinch the nomination at the partyconvention in Denver this summer.
Even so, Clinton's aides contended that her strength withblue-collar voters - already demonstrated in primaries in Ohio,Pennsylvania and Indiana - makes her the more electable candidatein the fall.
In her remarks, Clinton said, "I deeply admire Sen. Obama,"but she added, "our case is stronger." She said she had wonroughly 17 million votes in the primaries and caucuses to date, andshe declared, "The White House is won in the swing states. And Iam winning the swing states."
Clinton arranged a meeting with superdelegates for Wednesday.About 250 of them remain publicly uncommitted.
The delegate tally aside, the former first lady struggled toovercome an emerging Democratic consensus that Obama effectivelywrapped up the nomination last week with a victory in the NorthCarolina primary and a narrow loss in Indiana.
He picked up four superdelegates during the day, including RoyRomer, former Democratic Party chairman.
"This race, I believe, is over," Romer told reporters on aconference call. He said only Clinton can decide when to withdraw,but he added: "There is a time we need to end it and directourselves to the general election. I think that time is now."
Clinton and Obama briefly shook hands on the Senate floorTuesday after interrupting their campaigns for a few hours to voteon energy-related bills.