Clinton offers evidence she is more electable

Barack Obama won the Oregon primary and marked a milestone in his slow march to the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, a victory tempered by Hillary Clinton’s vow to stay in the race after a lopsided victory in Kentucky.

The split decision of the two contests did not change the dynamics of the contest, with Clinton’s hopes of securing the nomination more and more less likely as the pool of available delegates dwindles.

Obama’s campaign said he had passed 1,627 pledged delegates — a majority of all available. Combined with the superdelegates who have declared their support for him, some projections showed that he could end the night within 70 of the 2,026 needed to secure the nomination.

Speaking to a rally in downtown Des Moines, he stopped short of declaring victory but said, “Tonight, in the fullness of spring, with the help of those who stood up from Portland to Louisville, we have returned to Iowa with a majority of delegates elected by the American people, and you have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.”

Yet Clinton characterized her crushing win in the Bluegrass State as yet more evidence that she would be more electable in the fall, and as further reason to see the race through the end of the primary season on June 3, when Montana and South Dakota hold primaries. She pressed again for a seating of the Michigan and Florida delegations, stripped of their votes in the nomination process after the state parties defied the wishes of the Democratic National Committee and moved their contests to January.

“We’re winning the popular vote, and I’m more determined than ever to see that every vote is cast and every ballot is counted,” Clinton told supporters in Louisville.

Whether she holds the popular vote lead, however, depends on the measurement. According to RealClearPolitics estimates, Clinton leads in the popular vote only when the votes of Florida and Michigan are counted. Neither candidate campaigned in either state, and only Clinton put her name on the ballot in Michigan.

Facing a huge money crunch, Clinton nevertheless continues to draw an enthusiastic and strident base of supporters, some still stunned that a nomination that once looked inevitable is slipping away.

At a fund-raiser in Century City on Thursday, before some 600 donors, she noted that she has won states with more electoral votes than Obama, and has reminded supporters that had the Democrats had the “winner-take-all” system of awarding delegates, as the Republicans have, she would be the nominee.

With her giant wins in Kentucky and West Virginia last week, she also is able to point to a fault line in the Obama campaign in reaching working class voters, although exit polls showed that her opponent fared about evenly in Oregon in drawing that demographic.

Yet Clinton has toned down her attacks on her opponent, instead aiming her fire at some in the media that have declared the race over.

In a hopeful note of unity on Tuesday, she told the crowd, “We do see eye to eye when it comes to uniting our party and electing a Democratic president this fall.”

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