- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign said this morning they believe she may be ahead by just one delegate and warned the Democratic party may need to brace for a convention battle.

Each campaign claimed victory after last night’s coast-to-coast presidential nomiating contests. The Clinton team began calling Mr. Obama the “establishment” candidate, while his campaign insisted she was the national brand name and they never intended to win in California, New York or New Jersey.

Mr. Obama, speaking to reporters this morning, said he was proud of winning so many votes when he was up against a “familiar and well-appreciated” opponent. He added the Clinton “machine” has been “honed over two decades.” The campaign estimated Mr. Obama will end up with 847 pledged delegates from yesterday to Mrs. Clinton’s 834. The Clinton campaign did not release its figures.

Clinton political field director Guy Cecil told reporters on a conference call that once results are tallied from New Mexico and California, he expects the candidates will be nearly tied, “within a 5 to 10 delegate margin either way” and “essentially bringing yesterday to a draw on delegates.”

He said the tallies suggest Mrs. Clinton is up by one but Mrs. Clinton has a “significant” lead when superdelegates are factored into the equation. Clinton strategist Mark Penn also pushed the campaign’s desire to have delegates from Florida and Michigan seated at the convention.

Obama aides stressed their candidate “won more states, won more delegates, won more total votes” and said Mr. Obama was able to “keep her delegate number down” on Super Tuesday.

They also said Mrs. Clinton was “presumed to be almost inevitable” on Super Tuesday and “This was always going to be a tough sled for us.”

Mr. Penn said he thinks Mrs. Clinton will win the popular vote totals from yesterday once all the returns are tabulate, and that it is becoming “less and less likely either side is going to be able to significantly amass a large delegate lead.”

The Obama campaign said its candidate showed he had the strength to win nationwide against a longtime front-runner who once had been expected to knock him out of the race.

A reporter asked Mr. Obama about Mrs. Clinton’s Super Tuesday night speech where she proclaimed, “I won’t let anyone swiftboat this country’s future,” seemingly an addendum to her claim she is more “vetted” than her rival.

“The Clinton research operation is about as good as anybody’s out there,” Mr. Obama responded. “I assure you that having engaged in a contest against them for the last year, they’ve pulled out all the stops.”

Mrs. Clinton plans to speak with reporters this afternoon from her Arlington headquarters.

Obama aides cited poll after poll with Mrs. Clinton, the former first lady, leading by double digits because of her national name recognition. Adviser Susan Rice said on MSNBC that Mr. Obama was able to “close a huge distance of coming from behind” and said he will campaign aggressively in the contests coming this weekend and Tuesday in the Potomac region.

“In the states where he is known best, he does extremely well,” she said.

The Clinton campaign fueled by big delegate wins in California and New York also was ecstatic that it had been able to shut Mr. Obama down in Massachusetts, where he had endorsements from the state’s top politicians and the majority of the Kennedy family.

Political blogs were exploding with spin for their preferred candidates as the nation awaited results from New Mexico’s contest, and energized supporters weighed in on the campaign blogs last night.

“This is a great beginning, and I think this is only the onset of a great night,” wrote Vincent69 on the Clinton Web site.

A Clinton fan using the name “change is here” used a simple: “WE LOVE YOU CALIFORNIA” with 45 exclamation points to punctuate the sentiment.

Obama fans pledged to work hard as the campaign moves to Washington state, Nebraska, Maine, Louisiana and this region.

“Seattle’s definitely going to help keep Obama on the road to the nomination this Saturday,” one of his supporters wrote.

Others struck a tone of urgency.

“Anyone who lives close to Washington and Ohio need[s] to volunteer at the Obama headquarters in each state. I call upon all college students to give up one day a week to go out and canvas neighborhoods and get out the vote on election day. Come on Washington. Come on Ohio. You have a chance to make a difference in our country and as an Oregonian I do not get to vote until May. We are counting on you,” wrote Carol, from Ashland.

Rick in NJ pleaded on the Obama blog, “Please, please people! Don’t stop now. We have significant momentum, the mainstream media is paying full attention to our movement, and we have to carry forward this movement for America every day, in every way possible.”

“There is no time to rest,” he added.

Clinton supporter Wendy was talking up cash on the blog just after midnight: “We all need to donate what we can to Hillary’s campaign so that she has funding to continue this remarkable journey!” Mr. Penn said the campaign is having a “record” day with Web fundraising but did not release numbers.

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