“It’s not just Kentucky bluegrass that’s music to my ears,” Clinton said at a victory rally in Louisville. “We have your overwhelming vote of confidence even in the face of tough odds. Some have said your votes don’t count, that this campaign is over. But that didn’t stop you. You’ve never given up on me because you know I’ll never give up on you.”
With votes counted from 99 percent of Kentucky’s precincts, Clinton was gaining 65 percent of the vote to 30 percent for Obama.
The victory gave Clinton at least 33 delegates to at least 14 for Obama with an additional four yet to be awarded, according to the Associated Press tally.
Overall, Obama has 1,931 delegates, less than 100 shy of the 2,026 needed to become the first black presidential nominee of a major party. The former first lady had 1,755.
“This continues to be a tough fight,” she said. “And I have fought it the only way I know how — with determination, by never giving up and never giving in. I have done it not because I wanted to demonstrate my toughness but because I believe passionately that the Democrats must take back the White House and end Republican rule. This country needs compassion.”
According to analysts, the Clinton win was impressive. Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report told the Online NewsHour that Clinton “pulverized” Obama in Kentucky by winning among all income and age groups.
“What’s remarkable is the unanimity of the voters,” Rothenberg said Tuesday night. “Other than African-Americans, she blew his socks off basically.”
The win further underscores her appeal among blue-collar, white, working-class Democrats, he said.
“Her appeal is untarnished by all the talk that Obama has the nomination wrapped up,” Rothenberg said. “People are unwilling to jump on the bandwagon. To some extent, this can be seen as registering dissatisfaction or lack of support for Obama. The easy thing now is to go with the nominee. As long as Senator Clinton is in the race, voters are more than happy to vote for her.”
The significant losses in West Virginia and Kentucky could affect Obama’s tactics about where to spend resources in the general election, Rothenberg said.
Despite Clinton’s a strong run in the late primaries, Obama has steadily outpaced her where it counts, in the race for national convention delegates.
“We’re winning the popular vote and are more determined than ever to see that every vote is cast and every ballot counted,” Clinton said Tuesday night, using the still-uncounted votes in Florida and Michigan to bolster her math.
Regardless of disputed state votes, the race for the nomination remains incredibly close. Not counting the results in Kentucky and Oregon, Obama was ahead of Clinton by slightly more than 618,000 votes out of 32.2 million cast in primaries and caucuses where both candidates competed, according to the AP tally. The numbers do not include Iowa, Maine or Nevada caucuses, nor do they count — as Clinton does in her totals — Florida and Michigan.
Clinton reiterated Tuesday night that Michigan and Florida Democrats deserve to have their votes counted, referring to the lingering controversy surrounding primaries in both states held in defiance of Democratic National Committee rules. Party officials are scheduled to meet later this month to consider how or whether to seat all or some of those states’ delegates.
Campaigning with his wife in Kentucky, former President Clinton dismissed Obama’s inevitable claim on winning a majority of pledged delegates.
“There won’t be (a presumptive nominee) tonight, unless you decapitate Michigan and Florida, which violates our values and is dumb politics,” Bill Clinton said.
On Tuesday night, Clinton appealed to her supporters for more financial support and to super delegates — one of the few ways she could garner enough support to win the party’s nomination.
“Because this race is so close, still separated by 200 delegates, neither Senator Obama nor I will have reached that magic number by the time voting ends on June 3,” Clinton said in Louisville.
“So our party will have a tough choice to make: Who is ready to lead our party at the top of the ticket? Who is ready to defeat McCain in the swing states, rebuild the economy and end the war in Iraq?”
Rather than appearing in either of the states voting Tuesday, Obama traveled to Iowa, where his unlikely campaign for the nomination secured a first critical win more than four months ago. There he was expected to speak to supporters and claim a likely majority of the pledged delegates to this summer’s nominating convention.