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Down to the wire for Clinton

Latest update : 2008-03-03

Hillary Clinton's campaign to become the first woman in the White House is in trouble.Texas and Ohio hold crucial primaries on Tuesday, primaries Clinton must win to stay in the race for the Democratic nomination. (Report: J.Jackson)

Barack Obama intensified his bid to end Hillary Clinton's White House quest in Tuesday's momentous nominating contests in Texas and Ohio, jabbing back in a seething foreign policy row.

Clinton meanwhile, in a wistful moment, said she would examine her options when the votes were in, after several top Obama backers upped pressure on her to concede the Democratic nomination if she fails to score big victories.

"I intend to do as well as I can on Tuesday, we will see what happens after that," the former first lady said in a late-night press conference on her campaign plane.

The Illinois Senator, who would be the first African-American president, hit back after Clinton said Saturday his entire campaign was based on just one anti-war speech in 2002, as part of a withering critique of his national security credentials.

"When it came time to make the most important foreign policy decision of our generation -- the decision to invade Iraq -- Senator Clinton got it wrong," Obama argued in Westerville, Ohio on Sunday.

"To this day, she won’t even admit that her vote was a mistake or even that it was a vote for war," he said referring to the New York senator's 2002 decision to authorize force in Iraq.

"We’re still waiting to hear Senator Clinton tell us what foreign policy experience she actually has," Obama said, according to a copy of his remarks obtained by Time magazine.

Clinton, desperate to halt Obama's winning streak at its current 11 straight nominating contests, meanwhile raised fresh doubts about whether he was ready to serve in the Oval Office, as the two candidates rumbled across economically depressed midwestern Ohio, before both heading to Texas on Monday.

"You never know what crisis is going to happen," Clinton said in Austintown. "I know that I will be able to defend our country."

Earlier, her campaign rolled out 18 former admirals and generals to attest to her foreign policy spurs.

Former presidential candidate Bill Richardson, yet to endorse one of his former rivals, earlier expressed concern that a prolonged clash between the two Democratic titans could damage the party is it gears up to challenge presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.

"D Day is Tuesday. We have to have a positive campaign after Tuesday," he told CBS.

"Whoever has the most delegates after Tuesday, a clear lead, should be in my judgment the nominee."

A top Obama ally, Senator Richard Durbin, said Clinton should look carefully at her prospects after Tuesday's contests, as polls suggest she will fail to pull off the big wins she needs to catch her rival's tally of nominating delegates.

"Having made that appraisal ... I hope she'll understand that we need to bring our party together and prepare for a victory in November, which is the ultimate goal." Durbin told Fox.

Defeated 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry, warned on CNN that Clinton needed a "very significant victory," to carry on.

But Clinton's communications chief Howard Wolfson said she would fight on through Pennsylvania in April.

"What I'm saying is, we're going to have a great day on Tuesday. We're going to win this nomination. This nomination fight is going to go forward after Ohio and Texas," he said on ABC television.

The latest count of nominating delegates, awarded after each state contest, by website RealClearPolitics shows Obama leading by 1,389 to Clinton's 1,279, with the freshman senator pulling into the lead after 11 nominating wins in a row.

A total of 2,025 delegates is needed for victory at the Democrats' convention.

Tuesday's votes look unlikely to change that picture much, given that Democratic primaries award delegates on a proportional basis.

A Cleveland Plain Dealer poll found Senator Clinton slightly ahead in the economically struggling state, by 47-43 percent.

Obama led in Texas by 46-45 percent, according to polling by McClatchy Newspapers, MSNBC television and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Clinton, 60, and Obama, 46, are battling for the right to carry the Democratic banner in November against likely Republican nominee John McCain.

He enjoyed a down weekend at his home in Arizona, but was due to hit the campaign trail in Texas on Monday, as he tries to finally end the pesky and academic challenge of Republican challenger Mike Huckabee.

Date created : 2008-03-03