- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 20, 2008

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Barack Obama declares himself “within reach” of the Democratic nomination and celebrates in the state where his win in the opening contest of the presidential primary season that helped reshape the race.

Mr. Obama won yesterday’s Oregon primary — moving within 100 delegates of the total needed to claim the prize at the party convention this summer.

“You have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination,” he told more than 6,000 cheering supporters in Iowa, the first swing state that had voted for the first-term senator from Illinois in the race to the White House.

Mr. Obama had praised Mrs. Clinton, his rival in a race unlike any other, and accused Republican John McCain of a campaign run by lobbyists.

“You are Democrats who are tired of being divided, Republicans who no longer recognize the party that runs Washington, independents who are hungry for change,” he said, speaking to a crowd on the grounds of the Iowa capitol in Des Moines as well as the millions around the country who will elect the nation’s 44th president in November.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton countered with a lopsided win in Kentucky, a victory with scant political value in a race moving inexorably in Mr. Obama’s direction. With all precincts reporting in Kentucky, Mrs. Clinton won 65 percent to 30 percent in the Bluegrass State — a lead of more than 250,000 votes.

In the delegate tally, Mrs. Clinton won at least 37 in the two states and Obama won at least 23, according to an analysis of election returns by The Associated Press. All the Kentucky delegates were awarded, but there were still 43 to be allocated in Oregon, and Obama was in line for many of them.

He had 1,940 delegates overall, out of 2,026 needed for the nomination. Clinton had 1,759 according the latest tally by the AP.

With about 30 percent of the votes counted in Oregon’s unique mail-in primary, Obama was gaining a 60 percent share to 40 percent for Clinton.

The former first lady vowed to remain in the race, telling supporters, “I’m more than determined than ever to see that every vote is cast and every ballot is counted.”

The closely fought Democratic primary season ends June 3.

In a sign of confidence on the front-runner’s part, party officials said discussions were under way to send Paul Tewes, a top Obama campaign aide, to the Democratic National Committee to oversee operations for the fall campaign.

And in a fresh sign that their race was coming to an end, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama praised one another and pledged a united party for the general election.

“While we continue to go toe-to-toe for this nomination, we do see eye-to-eye when it comes to uniting our party to elect a Democratic president this fall,” said Mrs. Clinton, whose supporters Mr. Obama will need if he is to end eight years of Republican rule in the White House.