Hillary Clinton breathed new life into her flagging campaign for the White House by winning the Ohio and Texas primaries. Senator John McCain has secured the Republican nomination. (Report: K.Spencer)
Basking in her role as comeback underdog, Hillary Clinton savored the sweet taste of victory Wednesday after a gruesome, morale-busting month in which Barack Obama almost knocked her out of the Democratic presidential race.
Clinton vowed to punch all the way to the White House after ending Obama's 12-contest win streak with stunning victories Tuesday in delegate-rich Ohio and Texas, and a third triumph in tiny Rhode Island.
Looking fresh and beaming despite days of non-stop campaigning that had left her voice hoarse, the New York senator and former first lady joyfully proclaimed the start of "a new chapter in this historic campaign."
Clinton still faced an uphill battle as she fought for the nomination once considered hers for the taking. But she visibly relished her new pose as a battered but indestructible champion.
"For everyone who stumbled and stood right back up and for everyone, everyone who works hard and never gives up -- this one's for you," Clinton told delirious supporters here after winning bellweather Ohio.
"The people of Ohio have said it loudly and clearly, we're going on. We're going strong. And we're going all the way!"
Colored ticker tape floated through the air, her faithful chanted "Yes she can" "Yes she Can" and the former first lady held her hand over her heart, a month of pent up frustration turned to joy at her victory party.
"You know what they say. As Ohio goes, so goes the nation. Well, this nation's coming back, and so is this campaign."
Obama can now brace himself for a withering examination from the Clinton camp, which believes its decision to turn up the heat on his commander in chief credentials and her heavy emphasis on economics in hurting Ohio worked.
Her victory appeared to at least buy her some time, perhaps until the Pennsylvania primary on April 22, to try to coax Obama into a fatal error, or to so inflame doubt about his viability, that his core support deserts him.
Ohio and Texas had been seen as must-wins after her husband Bill predicted last month she needed both to keep her campaign alive. The former president was, not coincidentally, nowhere to be seen at his wife's victory party.
The Obama camp has already argued it is impossible for Clinton to capture enough elected delegates in remaining contests to catch the Illinois senator in the race for the magic number of 2,025.
But Clinton backers hit back on Tuesday.
"Let her continue this," said Ohio Governor Ted Strickland.
Former astronaut, Senator and bona fide American hero John Glenn, drove home the new Clinton camp line that only she can win battleground states, which the Democratic nominee must bring home to capture the White House.
"This win will be looked at by the pundits, very carefully," said Glenn, and noted his state's representative demographics.
"Ohio, more than any state in the union represents the whole United States."
Clinton's delegate gap leaves her banking on the long-shot scenario that she can enforce the seating of convention delegations from Florida and Michigan, where she won, but the results were ruled invalid over a scheduling conflict.
Even then, Clinton would need superdelegates -- the more than 700 party luminaries who can vote how they like at the August convention in Denver -- to make her the Democratic standard-bearer.
Her problem though is that her lead in that category seems to be eroding: and she would likely need to blitz through remaining states, some of which favor her rival, to force them to become turncoats.
However, there was no mistaking the huge relief among Clinton aides Tuesday, as fear and fatigue ceded to shrieks of palpable delight.
"Some were ready to call this campaign over and the voters had other ideas," one campaign strategist said.
"There are a number of states to go where people want to play a role in this historic primary."
Date created : 2008-03-05