Hilary Clinton’s promise to the Democratic party

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Hillary Clinton vowed to fight on with her presidential bid after a landslide victory in the West Virginia primary but promised to ”work my heart out” to ensure a Democratic victory in November whoever wins the nomination.

By Andrew Ward in Washington

Barack Obama, her Democratic rival, extended his lead among the crucial “superdelegates”, whose votes look likely to decide the race, as more party leaders swung behind his campaign.

But Mrs Clinton made clear she would not drop out before the final primary contest on June 3, telling supporters: ”this race isn’t over yet”.

”They say: ’Give up. It’s too hard. The mountain is too high’. But here in West Virginia you know a thing or two about rough roads to the top of the mountain,” she said.

Early results indicated that Mrs Clinton’s winning margin in West Virginia could be as big as 2-to-1, helped by overwhelming support from lower-income white voters in the largely rural state.

Despite her defiant victory speech, the result appeared unlikely to revive Mrs Clinton’s fading presidential hopes because she has little chance of catching Mr Obama in the overall race after disappointing performances in Indiana and North Carolina last week.

But the heavy defeat raised fresh questions about Mr Obama’s ability to woo white, working class voters and reinforced Mrs Clinton’s argument that she has a better chance of beating John McCain, the Republican candidate, in November.

Mrs Clinton had declared West Virginia a “test” of electability because no Democrat has won the White House without its support since 1916 and the state has backed the winner in the past four elections.
”We’ve won the states we must win in November,” she said. ”The White House is won in the swing states and I’m winning the swing states.”

The New York senator struck a conciliatory tone towards her opponent, insisting that the eventual nominee would emerge stronger and the party more energised because of their tough primary battle.

But exit polls revealed the rift that has opened between supporters of the two candidates and the uphill struggle that Mr Obama would face trying to win West Virginia in November.

Only 36 per cent of Clinton supporters said they would vote for Mr Obama in the general election, with 35 per cer cent saying they would vote for Mr McCain while 29 per cent would stay at home. Just over half of Obama supporters would vote for Mrs Clinton. More than 60 per cent of each group said the other candidate did not share their values.

Anything less than a landslide victory in West Virginia would have been a disappointment for the former first lady, with recent opinion polls having given her a 40 percentage point lead in the state.

West Virginia was friendly territory for Mrs Clinton because it is dominated by older, lower-income white voters — her strongest support base — and has few of the African-Americans and higher-income white voters who tend to favour Mr Obama.

She is also expected to win easily in Kentucky, which has a similar racial and economic profile to West Virginia, when it votes next Tuesday. However, polls give Mr Obama a commanding lead in Oregon, which votes the same day.

Attention has increasingly shifted away from the remaining primaries to the nearly 800 Democratic “superdelegates”, who have been shifting towards Mr Obama in growing numbers over recent days.

The Illinois senator took the lead among superdelegates for the first time last week and on Tuesday gained four more supporters, including Roy Romer, the former Colorado governor and Democratic National Committee chairman who co-chaired President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996.

Mr Romer praised Mrs Clinton as ”a very strong and formidable candidate”. ”But there is a time that we need to end it and direct ourselves to the general election. I think that time is now,” he said.

About 30 superdelegates have announced support for Mr Obama since the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, signaling that party leaders are preparing to unify behind his campaign and shift focus to the general election.

Before Tuesday night’s results, Mr Obama led Mrs Clinton by 1,872 delegates to 1,698, with 2,025 needed to win the nomination.

Mr Obama largely avoided campaigning in West Virginia, where 28 delegates were available, and sought to lower expectations by arguing that anything above 20 per cent of the vote would represent a good showing.

The Financial Times

Obama running for the White House  The senator of Illinois is currently running for the White House but first of all he has to win the Primaries
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