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US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

Clinton has 'no intention' of quitting

4 min

Defying mounting pressure from some party leaders to bow out, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton told The Washington Post she will stick it out through the remaining primaries. (Report: P.Hall)

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US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton vowed, in an interview published Sunday, to stay in the race to the very end, despite warnings by prominent party officials that a protracted primary fight could be damaging to Democrats.

"I know there are some people who want to shut this down and I think they are wrong," Clinton told The Washington Post. "I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started and until we see what happens in the next 10 contests and until we resolve Florida and Michigan.

The two states held their Democratic primaries in January, but because they were held in violation of national party rules, their results have been invalidated.

Clinton, who won in both of these states, now wants to find a way to include Florida and Michigan in the overall tally for the Democratic nominating convention.

Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean warned this week that the party needed to unify soon to avoid handing November's presidential election to the Republicans, and Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont called openly for Clinton to quit.

But on Saturday, Clinton's rival, Barack Obama, rejected calls for her to get out of the nomination race.

Campaigning in Pennsylvania, Obama told reporters that "Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants."

"She should be able to compete, and her supporters should be able to support her for as long as they are willing or able," said the Illinois senator, who has a slim lead over Clinton.

At the same time, he insisted that it was important for superdelegates and other top party officials "to make a decision as quickly as possible so that we can settle on a nominee and give that nominee some time before the convention to select a vice president" and "to start thinking about how the convention should be conducted."

Neither Clinton nor Obama can win the 2,025 delegates necessary to wrap up the party's nomination, leaving the decision up to the superdelegates, party grandees who can vote for who they want at the national convention in August.

Both camps said Saturday they did not believe the ongoing race was damaging.

"I think that the notion that the party's been divided by this contest is somewhat overstated... I think the party's going to come together," Obama said, adding that a candidate must be chosen after the nominating process ends in June.

Former president Bill Clinton told reporters while campaigning in Pennsylvania: "We just need to relax and let this happen. Nobody's talking about wrecking the party, but there are real differences here."

He said his wife could still win the race to fight presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in November, despite Obama leading in the number of pledged delegates, nominating contest victories and the national popular vote.

"It's neck-and-neck. Only 130 delegates separate Hillary from Senator Obama -- and that's not counting Florida and Michigan," whose primaries were voided after they broke party rules, he wrote in a fund-raising email to supporters.

"With the race this close, it sure doesn't make sense to me that she'd leave now -- does it make sense to you?" he said.

Clinton needs a big win in Pennsylvania to boost her argument that only she can win big states that Democrats need to recapture the White House.

She is leading Obama by double digits in most polls here, but his aides believe he manages to increase his support by spending time in a state.

Accompanied by Bob Casey, Pennsylvania's only Democratic senator whose endorsement he won this week, Obama paid a lunchtime visit Saturday to a bar in Johnstown frequented by blue-collar workers playing pool and watching TV.

Taking off his jacket and rolling up his sleeves, Obama chatted informally with the clientele before leaving a large tip at the bar.

He later addressed a sold-out rally at the high school in Johnstown, a former mining town, as he sought to woo away working-class voters from Clinton.

Obama admitted he was "not as well known" as the New York senator here, but said: "We want to do as well in Pennsylvania. We may not be able to win but I think we've got a good chance and we're going to work as hard as we can."
 

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