OK Hillary. You won. Now what?

Congratulations, Hillary Rodham Clinton. You did what your husband said you had to do and won Ohio and Texas.

Now what?

“Tonight we won three out of four contests and began a new chapter in this historical campaign,” the victorious Clinton told reporters on her campaign plane.

But even if she wins every contest left, Clinton still would have a hard time overcoming Barack Obama’s pledged delegate lead. In fact, her task got even harder because even though she won Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island Tuesday night, she didn’t do much to close the delegate gap — and with every contest that passes, the number up for grabs drops.

Obama focused on the math while addressing supporters in Texas. “We have nearly the same delegate lead as we did this morning and we are on our way to winning this nomination,” he said.

Clinton’s best hope is to try to rack up big margins in the spring contests. Even her own advisers acknowledge Obama will probably win the two other states left this month — Wyoming on Saturday and Mississippi next Tuesday. If she is able to continue turning voters against Obama in the races after that, she could plausibly clinch the nomination by persuading superdelegates to back her.

It won’t be easy.

Her success Tuesday night came after she put a series of hits on Obama. She ran TV ads that questioned his foreign policy credentials — one that pointed out he didn’t call hearings on the fight against terrorists in Afghanistan and another fear-inducing piece that depicted her as the best candidate to handle an international crisis that erupts at 3 a.m. when your children are asleep.

Her campaign tried to raise more questions about Obama’s connections to an indicted fundraiser as he went on the trail. Clinton said Obama tried to pull the old “wink-wink” by talking tough on free trade in Ohio while secretly reassuring Canadians that he is no protectionist.

“He needs to figure out a way to respond quicker without being trapped into sort of the politics of squabbling,” said Democratic consultant Jenny Backus. “She slowed him down tonight by throwing a bunch of inside the beltway arguments over him, and it took him a day too long to get out from underneath it.”

With seven weeks until Pennsylvania, there’s plenty of time for the race to get even uglier.

And if the race drags on, it may not just be Clinton. Even as he was ahead with 11 straight wins leading into Tuesday, Obama made some of his toughest critiques yet of Clinton, and those are only likely to increase as he tries to force her out of the race.

“They need to run their own race, but they need to be able to turn the focus back to her,” Backus said.

___

Nedra Pickler has covered presidential politics for The Associated Press since 2002.

5 Responses to "OK Hillary. You won. Now what?"

  1. sherry  March 5, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Obama will not have enough pledged delegates either. It all comes down to the super delegates.
    So many articles fail to mention this fine point.

  2. Carl Nemo  March 5, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    At one point I became somewhat emotionally involved with this campaign by rooting for my favorite; ie., Obama. Now it seems this whole process is turning into a mass circus- circus event.

    So all we can do is wait for the outcome at the Democratic National convention to see if the movers and shakers call the coin flip right!?

    If they end up endorsing Hillary then McCain will surely win. If they endorse an Obama ticket he has a far better chance of defeating McCain and if they join Hillary and Obama as presidential v.p. partners regardless of the order then McCain is surely “toast”! Although the combination of the two will not be a political marriage made in heaven, more like purgatory for the duration, it will have the necessary gravitas to send the republicans, hopefully to the ashbin of political history for a long time to come.

    America will have solved the transgenerational issue of women and blacks ascending to the presidency and vice presidency of the United States of America for better or for worse.

    Carl Nemo **==

  3. Pablo  March 6, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Carl you are sounding rather optimistic today! They must be getting to you!

    I say hold all the primaries and caucuses to one week; let’s stop this stupid circus so the fine senators can do what we pay them to do, which does not entail running around the country burning massive amounts of fossil fuels campaigning.
    Anything with hillary on top frightens me! If she becomes the Democratic candidate I believe I’ll vote for Nader, because it’s not possible to vote against two candidates, and I don’t think hillary can be trusted an inch more than mccain.

    And besides, don’t we have term limits for presidents here? Are we supposed to believe that Bill will just be hanging out cooking and watching TV in the White House? No, he will be quasi-president. Which to me means more globalization, more oppression of Iraq and things like cuts to programs to those in need, etc… They should be ashamed for taking advantage of basically an unfilled loophole so they can continue in power. And the people should be ahamed for letting it happen.

  4. ekaton  March 6, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Same deal with a John McCain/Jeb Bush ticket, heaven forbid. The US is not supposed to cater to political dynasties. “The people” don’t have much say in things anymore. We “vote” for candidates supplied to us by the elite, of the elite, and for the elite. I can’t vote for McCain or Clinton. I just can’t. Sorry, democrats who will accuse me of stealing a vote from Clinton, but she’s no better than Bush or McCain.

    – Kent Shaw

  5. sherry  March 6, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Pablo, AMEN! Too much time, too much money on these primaries. It is insanity.
    And Nemo, keep your chin up. Just don’t watch/read anything about the elections until July lol. Good luck at that.
    It would be nice if our fine Senators would be full time senators and part time campaigners instead of the opposite.
    Sigh. Our tax dollars at work.

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