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Clinton Basks in Big W.Va. Win as Nominating Fight Continues to Ore., Ky.

BY Admin  May 13, 2008 at 10:30 PM EDT

Clinton celebrates in Charleston, W.Va.; AP photo

“Here in West Virginia,
you know a thing or two about rough roads to the top of the mountain,” she told supporters at a victory rally in the capital Charleston.

Clinton said the Mountain State victory made her “more
determined than ever to carry on this campaign until everyone has had a chance
to make their voices heard.”

She also reiterated her earlier calls to seat party
delegates from the Michigan and Florida contests that were punished for holding
early primaries – a move decried by some as an attempt to “move the goal
posts” in the race for delegates in the nominating contest.

Despite trailing in pledged delegates and super delegates
with just five contests left, Clinton
played up her list of previous victories on Tuesday night. “The White
House is won in the swing states, and I am winning the swing states,” she
said, making her case that Obama’s trouble connecting with older, white,
working-class voters like those in West
Virginia will be a liability for Democrats in the
general election.

“This isn’t new news,” Amy Walter, editor-in-chief
of The Hotline, told the Online NewsHour Tuesday night. “Hillary Clinton
does better among the demographics of West
Virginia. At this point, Barack Obama has not proven
to Democrats that he can carry this group of voters. I don’t know that he’s
ever going to do that. The reality is he will win the nomination without having
won a majority of the traditional Democratic voters.”

Walter said it was important to watch how Clinton
portrayed the West Virginia
win.

“The danger for her right now is to try to oversell her
win here, or to look as if her remarks are actually focused on what divides the
Democrats,” she said.

Clinton
won at least 15 of the 28 delegates at stake on Tuesday, with 13 more to be
allocated, according to initial Associated Press tallies.

Regardless of the margin of victory in West Virginia, Obama still picked up more
support this week, with nearly 30 super delegates deciding to back him, New
Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, an Obama supporter, said Tuesday evening on MSNBC.

The focus now shifts to a new round of contests in Kentucky and Oregon.
The math continues to favor Obama, who could declare victory in the Democratic
race as soon as next week’s primary in Oregon
is over. As in West Virginia, Clinton
is expected to do well in the May 20 Kentucky
contest.

Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report told the
Online NewsHour that Clinton’s
victory could help her raise funds and solicit super delegate support, but it
doesn’t alter the fundamental aspects of the race.

“She can go to contributors and supporters and say, ‘See,
I still win. He can’t win these kinds of voters,’” Rothenberg said.
“The reality is that he still has a significant lead in delegates and the
popular vote, and she can’t catch him in either.”

Clinton
used her victory speech Tuesday night – as she has done in recent primaries -
to solicit campaign donations on her Web site. The AP reported Tuesday that her
campaign is more than $20 million in debt.

U.S. Rep. Nick Joe Rahall, an Obama supporter who represents
West Virginia’s southern coalfields, said
Obama has always faced an uphill battle against Clinton in the state.

“He will be very, very competitive in West Virginia this fall,” the super
delegate said on MSNBC.

Nearly two-thirds of West
Virginia voters picked the economy from three choices
as the most important issue facing the country in exit polling, the AP reported.
About one in five picked the Iraq
war, followed closely by health care.

Obama has kept his focus on the Oregon
primary and to the general election campaign against Republican Sen. John
McCain, but the West Virginia
defeat underscored his weakness among blue collar voters who could be pivotal
in the fall.

“This is our chance to build a new majority of
Democrats and independents and Republicans who know that four more years of
George Bush just won’t do,” Obama said in Missouri, which looms as a battleground
state in November.

“This is our moment to turn the page on the divisions
and distractions that pass for politics in Washington,” he added, according to the
AP.

Clinton is expected to spend
Wednesday in Washington then make travel to South Dakota and California
on Thursday before spending Friday and Saturday in Oregon. Her husband will campaign for her
Wednesday in South Dakota and Montana before traveling to Kentucky on Thursday.