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With Clinton Still in the Game, Democratic Split Continues

March 5, 2008 at 6:25 PM EDT
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Sen. Hillary Clinton's comeback to win primaries Tuesday night in Ohio and Texas continues the Democratic Party's division between her backers and those of Sen. Barack Obama. Pennsylvania's primary might bring some resolution, but it is seven weeks away.

JIM LEHRER: And now to the Democrats, still in search of their nominee. Once again to Judy Woodruff.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), New York: Thank you all very much.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The votes in Texas were still being counted last night when Hillary Clinton came out to celebrate her win in Ohio.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: For everyone here in Ohio and across America who’s ever been counted out, but refused to be knocked out, and…

… for everyone who has stumbled but stood right back up, and for everyone…

… who works hard and never gives up, this one is for you.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Illinois: I want to congratulate Senator Clinton for running a hard-fought race in both Ohio and Rhode Island.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Moments later in San Antonio, Barack Obama acknowledged Clinton’s victories, but then looked past her toward a run against the presumptive Republican nominee.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Because John McCain may claim long history of straight talk and independent thinking — and I respect that — but in this campaign, he’s fallen in line behind those very same policies that have ill-served America.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Both candidates were up at dawn, making a point of appearing on as many morning shows as possible.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: It was a great night last night.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Clinton insisted that yesterday’s wins in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island put her back in the game and raise a serious question for Democratic voters.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: This election now is not only between Senator Obama and myself. It is, in the voters’ minds, between one of us and Senator McCain.

I think that’s why I did so well last night, because it’s no longer just a kind of abstract question. It’s a real one for Democrats: Who do they want to go up against John McCain?

I think the answer yesterday was clear. And so I feel very comfortable moving into these next contests that we’re going to do very well and, at the end of the day, we’re going to be the nominee.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On MSNBC, Clinton left the door open to sharing the ticket with Obama, but said it was premature to address the issue until a nominee was chosen.

For his part, Obama credited Clinton for being a tough competitor, but cited the sizable lead he still has in delegates.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, I think it’s going to be very hard for her to catch up on the pledged delegate count. Even on the super-delegates, though, what you’ve seen is her lead narrow drastically over the last several weeks. I mean, we’ve picked up scores of super-delegates, and she hasn’t. So we think that we’ll be in a very strong position to claim the nomination.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Obama said the process is taking longer than it should simply because of who he’s running against.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Now, what is unique is that we’re running against the Clintons, which is not the typical opponent.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC host: That’s one way to put it. That is one way to put it.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: I mean, yes, I mean, look, they’ve got resources and they’ve got enormous affection within the Democratic Party. And so what it means is, is that we’ve got to do it in a much more steady way than would normally be the case.

JUDY WOODRUFF: By midday, the two campaigns were back taking shots at each other. During a conference call with reporters, Clinton campaign officials accused Obama of not answering all of the questions raised about his connection with an indicted Chicago businessman.

Meanwhile, on his campaign plane, Obama told reporters that Clinton had yet to prove her claim that she gained serious foreign policy experience while first lady.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Was she negotiating treaties or agreements? Or was she handling crises during this period of time? My sense is the answer is no.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The two candidates face off again in Saturday’s Wyoming caucuses and in next Tuesday’s primary in Mississippi.