- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won today’s Pennsylvania Democratic primary, calling it a tide-turning contest that keeps Sen. Barack Obama at bay and eases pressure on her to drop out of the presidential nomination race.

“We were up against a formidable opponent who outspent us three-to-one. He broke every spending record in this state trying to knock us out of the race. Well, the people of Pennsylvania had other ideas,” Mrs. Clinton told supporters at her Philadelphia victory party.

The six-week run-up to today’s primary turned bitter as both candidates sharpened their attacks, and Mrs. Clinton said voters got a chance to size up both candidates head-to-head: “You listened, and today you chose.”

CHT-8.jpgWith 80 percent of precincts reporting, she led Mr. Obama 55 percent to 45 percent. Mr. Obama began the night with 1648½ delegates to Mrs. Clinton’s 1509½, according to the Associated Press. It takes 2,025 to win the nomination, and at this point both campaigns are acknowledging the decision will rest with superdelegates, the party officials who will get a say at the August Democratic convention.

Both candidates last night directed their comments in part at those superdelegates, with Mrs. Clinton arguing she’s proven she can win the big swing states key to the general election and Mr. Obama saying Democrats can’t win without the voters he turned out.

“We closed the gap, we rallied people of every age and race and background to the cause,” he said. “Whether they were inspired for the first time, or for the first time in a long time, we registered a record number of voters, and it is those new voters who will lead our party to victory in November.”

Mr. Obama spoke in Evansville, Ind., where he had flown to begin campaigning for the next round of contests.

But the protracted fight is proving brutal for Democrats’ chances against Sen. John McCain, Republicans’ presumed nominee. A high percentage of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters yesterday wouldn’t commit to voting for Mr. Obama in November should he be the nominee, and only slightly more of his supporters would vote for her.

Mr. McCain picked up the state’s delegates, easily topping former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has dropped out of the race and endorsed Mr. McCain, and Rep. Ron Paul, who while still running has shifted his campaign into a lower gear.

The exit polls found Mrs. Clinton won moderate voters overwhelmingly, while Mr. Obama won self-identified liberal voters. Mrs. Clinton also won among union households, gun owners and regular church-goers. The split also was apparent among voters who said race was a factor in their vote — about one in five voters yesterday. Of those, 59 percent voted for Mrs. Clinton, and among white voters who said race was important, Mrs. Clinton won 75 percent. The Democratic presidential hopefuls now brace for the nine nominating battles to come. • Staff writer Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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