Hillary Clinton won a decisive victory in Pennsylvania Tuesday night, prompting most observers to suggest the Democrats’ race for the White House nomination will go right down to the last primaries in June. With most of the large states–and most of the swing states–under her belt, Clinton’s strategy now will be to argue that Obama doesn’t have what it takes to win the crucial battlegrounds in November.
VOICEOVER: From the Associated Press, this is an Election ’08 Update with John Seigenthaler.
JOHN SIEGENTHALER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: I’m John Siegenthaler for the Associated Press. Hillary Clinton has survived to see another day. She pulled out a win in the Pennsylvania primary.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some people counted me out and said to drop out. But the American people—well, the American people don’t quit, and they deserve a president who doesn’t quit either.
Hillary Clinton’s victory was the result of strong support from blue-collar workers, women, and white men. She won despite being heavily outspent by rival Barack Obama. Clinton still trails Obama in the delegate count and the national popular vote. Now her campaign will try to persuade superdelegates and contributors that her strong record in big states makes her more electable come November.
JENNY BACKUS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Their argument to the superdelegates is that the Democratic nominee has to win states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, big states, big electoral college prizes. And she is trying to make an argument to superdelegates sort of indirectly that Barack Obama can’t capture the voters that need to be captured in order to win these big states.
SIEGENTHALER: Obama always trailed in the polls in Pennsylvania. The Illinois Senator tried to put a positive spin on his loss.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, there were a lot of folks who didn’t think we could make this a race when it started. They thought we were going to be blown out. But we worked hard, and we traveled across the state to big cities and small towns, to factories and BFW halls, and now, six weeks later, we closed the gap.
The lead-up to Pennsylvania proved a tough stretch for Obama. He was forced to go on the defensive by controversial comments made by his pastor and his own comments about bitter small-town voters. It has left some Democrats wondering if Obama can close the deal.
BACKUS: I do think there’s an opening that the Clintons will try to exploit, which is she’s trying to make an argument that he’s not tough enough, that he’s sort of elitist, some of the code words that their campaign’s using.
SIEGENTHALER: The Democrats now face a primary season that will extend at least through May. Republicans say that’s good news for their presumptive nominee, John McCain.
DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: One thing they’re doing very well for Senator McCain and for the Republican Party as a whole is drawing the distinctions with each other and what they see as being wrong with each other’s records. As those divisions continue, it’ll only benefit the Republican Party.
SIEGENTHALER: There are nine contests left on the Democratic calendar. The next day to watch is May 6, when voters in Indiana and North Carolina head to the polls. I’m John Siegenthaler for the Associated Press.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.