Thursday, February 7, 2008

Both Democratic candidates proclaimed victories yesterday, with Sen. Barack Obama calling himself an underdog and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton declaring she is on the path to win the nomination.

Mrs. Clinton of New York led Mr. Obama of Illinois by about 50,000 votes from Super Tuesday’s wave of 22 elections, but delegate counts showed each within striking distance of the other in the push to get the party nod.

She started to appear to be the fundraising underdog yesterday, however, telling reporters that she loaned herself $5 million while reports surfaced her top aides are going without pay.

Mr. Obama, meanwhile, raised $32 million in January alone and was benefiting from the first fundraising appeal sent on his behalf.

Mrs. Clinton told reporters her capture of the big electoral prizes on Tuesday night “proved the wisdom of my investment.” She dodged or declined to answer further questions about whether she would loan herself more money and when she would repay her bank account.

The former first lady did stress it was “my money,” batting down any suggestions the cash came from former President Bill Clinton.

“My opponent was able to raise more money,” she said.

The Obama campaign did not disclose whether he was bringing in Web donations at a higher pace after Super Tuesday, but Clinton aides said she had a “record” fundraising day online. She also sent fans an e-mail fundraising pitch to raise $3 million in three days.

Political blog “The Page” reported last night that some Clinton advisers have gone without paychecks, including her campaign manager.

The campaigns looked to the four weekend contests across the country and Tuesday’s elections in Virginia, Maryland and the District, with Mrs. Clinton saying yesterday that she thought the District should be a state.

The Clinton team yesterday began calling Mr. Obama the “establishment” candidate, while his campaign insisted that she was the national brand name and that he had never intended to win in California, New York or New Jersey.

Mr. Obama told reporters Mrs. Clinton is the “front-runner in every contest,” and called his campaign a “scrappy little team.”

“I’m always the underdog,” he said.

He said he was proud of winning so many votes and appealing to a broad demographic when he was up against a rival with such a “familiar and well-appreciated” name.

“She’s got a political machine honed over two decades,” he said.

Mrs. Clinton has 1,045 delegates, to 960 for Mr. Obama with 2,025 delegates required to claim the Democratic Party nomination, according to the Associated Press.

Clinton strategist Mark Penn repeated the campaign’s call to have delegates from Florida and Michigan recognized by the party.

Bloomberg News reported yesterday that the Obama campaign has prepared a document foreseeing a potential stalemate, with neither candidate reaching the needed delegates by the end of the June and forcing a brokered convention.

Mr. Penn said it is becoming “less and less likely either side is going to be able to significantly amass a large delegate lead.”

He also outlined several “mythbusters” from Tuesday’s results, including Mrs. Clinton’s win among youth voters in the big states and rural voters in Missouri.

The Clinton campaign also was pleased that it had been able to shut Mr. Obama down in Massachusetts, where he had “establishment” endorsements from the state’s top politicians and the majority of the Kennedy family.

Energized supporters weighed in on both the Clinton and Obama campaign blogs last night, with one Obama blogger urging people to keep up their work because “there is no time to rest.”

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