- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton parlayed her Pennsylvania primary victory into a prodigious $3.5 million overnight fundraising haul, and yesterday urged superdelegates to heed her self-defined lead in the popular vote when selecting the Democratic presidential nominee.

“More people have now voted for me than have voted for my opponent,” said Mrs. Clinton, who is counting votes cast in the disqualified Florida and Michigan primaries. Otherwise, she still trails Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in the popular vote and more importantly, in delegates needed for the nomination.

Mrs. Clinton, whose cash-strapped campaign desperately needed the contribution boost Tuesday night, also said her nearly 10-point Pennsylvania win and her victories in other large swing states such as Ohio and Florida position her best to beat presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

But Mr. Obama and his supporters retorted that Mr. Obama is more likely to shake up the 2004 Bush-Kerry map by adding states such as Virginia, and that the results did not alter his prospects for capturing the nomination.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe ticked off 13 states in which Mr. Obama leads Mr. McCain in general election polls that Mrs. Clinton would lose — including Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon and Michigan. He added that “any Democrat” will carry California and New York, big states in the Clinton column.

“We can make Montana competitive,” he said, while Mrs. Clinton is losing by double digits. “The best chance we’ll have to win the general election is to expand the playing field.”

Mr. Plouffe also gave reporters a math lesson, noting that Mrs. Clinton is likely to gain — at most — 12 delegates from her Pennsylvania win, adding that his boss is “less than 300 delegates away from securing the nomination.”

To retake the delegate lead, the former first lady would need to win 70 percent of the vote in each of the remaining contests, he said.

Mrs. Clinton collected at least 80 nominating delegates in Pennsylvania while Mr. Obama picked up at least 66 in the primary plus two superdelgates yesterday, maintaining a lead of 1,715 to 1,589, according to an Associated Press tally.

In the remaining nine nominating contests, neither Mr. Obama nor Mrs. Clinton are expected reach the 2,024 delegates needed to capture the nomination, leaving about 300 undeclared party superdelegates to pick the nominee. Mrs. Clinton leads in the race for the 796 superdelegates, who are the party leaders and elected officials that automatically get a seat at the convention, 258-234.

“I have no way of predicting what they’ll decide,” Mrs. Clinton said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program. “But I think last night’s win should give a lot of fresh information to our superdelegates because, after all, the road to Pennsylvania Avenue does lead through Pennsylvania. And the big win that I had, the broad base of coalition that I put together, is exactly what we’re going to need to have in the fall.”

Mr. Obama yesterday won the support of superdelegate Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry, whose state chose Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Obama — 55 percent to 31 percent — in its Feb. 5 primary.

“Senator Obama is uniquely positioned to unite our nation and move beyond the divisiveness and partisan skirmishes that too often characterize politics as usual in Washington,” Mr. Henry said. “He is a strong, committed and inspirational leader, ideally suited to bring together Democrats, independents and Republicans.”

He also won a Nebraska superdelegate, while Mrs. Clinton was endorsed by superdelegate Rep. John Tanner of Tennessee.

The Obama campaign yesterday touted that 49 prominent North Carolina Democrats and former backers of former Sen. John Edwards’ presidential bid announced “today” that they are backing Mr. Obama. But several — including the three members of Congress on the list — already had revealed their support for the Illinois senator.

Without the votes from Florida and Michigan, the Pennsylvania results cut Mr. Obama’s lead in the nationwide popular vote from a little more than 700,000 votes to a little less than 500,000.

The Democratic Party refuses to recognize the Florida and Michigan contests because the states held early primaries in violation of party rule. The candidates did not campaign in those states and Mr. Obama’s name did not appear on the Michigan ballot.

Mr. Obama yesterday said Mrs. Clinton had built-in support in Pennsylvania, where she has a family history and strong ties to the political establishment, and he touted his success closing the gap from the 20-point lead his rival held going into the state. He acknowledged his campaign must reach out to seniors and blue-color voters, who tend to break for Mrs. Clinton.

“I think it’s very important for people to recognize that if you look at all the states where we’ve won, we’ve won most of the vote when it is under 60 among blue-collar voters,” he said. “And the problem is that we still have to do a better job of making sure that we’re talking to our seniors. And it’s not surprising that Senator Clinton’s argument about experience may have more traction with them.”

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