- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama last night said he had reached a major milestone toward the Democratic presidential nomination, shortly after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton scored a big win in Kentucky and pledged to fight on until “every vote is cast.”

Mr. Obama’s victory in Oregon shored up his sizable delegate lead over Mrs. Clinton, whom he praised widely last night as someone who broke barriers for women everywhere.

“Tonight … with the help of those who stood up from Portland to Louisville, we have returned to Iowa with a majority of delegates elected by the American people, and you have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination for president,” Mr. Obama said.
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Early returns with 35 percent of precincts reporting showed Mr. Obama won 60 percent to Mrs. Clinton’s 40 percent in the Oregon primary, conducted entirely by mail.

Mrs. Clinton meanwhile, thanked supporters in Kentucky, where she beat Mr. Obama 65 percent to 30 percent, for sending an “overwhelming vote of confidence even in the face of some pretty tough odds.”

“We have to get this right,” she said. “We have to select a nominee who is best positioned to win in November.”

However, one-third of Clinton voters in Kentucky and half of her voters in Oregon said they expect Mr. Obama to be the party’s nominee.

Mr. Obama last night called his rival “one of the most formidable candidates to ever run for this office.”

“We all admire her courage, her commitment and her perseverance,” he said. “No matter how this primary ends, Senator Clinton has shattered myths and broken barriers and changed the America in which my daughters and your daughters will come of age and for that we are grateful to her.”

His praise for Mrs. Clinton drew wild cheers, and he added: “While our primary has been long and hard-fought, the hardest and most important part of our journey still lies ahead.” He spent the remainder of his speech blasting Republicans.

The former first lady echoed that she and Mr. Obama were engaged in “one of the closest races” in history and repeated her insistence that she is winning the popular vote — a sentiment that is true only by discounting Mr. Obama’s caucus victories and by including totals from Florida and Michigan. Both states have been disqualified under Democratic National Committee (DNC) rules.

“I’m more determined than ever to see that every vote is cast and every ballot counted,” she said. “I commend Senator Obama and his supporters, and 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.”

Just three primaries remain in the nomination fight — Puerto Rico on June 1 and South Dakota and Montana on June 3.

Mr. Obama chose to speak in Iowa, which delivered his first victory on Jan. 3, to thank voters for helping him on his “unlikely journey.”

Mrs. Clinton told voters that she would be heading today to Florida to stand up for the millions who voted there.

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