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Pressure Grows on Clinton, Obama Claims Momentum

Barack Obama easily won the North Carolina primary Tuesday, while Hillary Clinton narrowly won in Indiana -- leading to fresh speculation as to whether the nominating battle may be nearing an end. Mark Shields and David Brooks weigh the road ahead for the Democrats.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    The Democratic race for president continues, but for how much longer?

    Judy Woodruff has our campaign report.

  • MAN:

    Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Hillary Clinton was back campaigning today, looking to squash any suggestion she give up on the Democratic race for president. But the results from two primaries yesterday certainly did not advance her cause.

    She lost North Carolina to Barack Obama by a decisive 56 percent to 42 percent margin, while her narrow 51-49 percent victory in Indiana was much closer than her camp expected.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Even as she vowed to fight on at a rally in Indianapolis last night, Clinton also struck a conciliatory tone.

  • CROWD:

    Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

    SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), Presidential Candidate: I know that people — people are watching this race, and they're wondering, I win, he wins, I win, he wins. It's so close. And I think that says a lot about how excited and passionate our supporters are and how intent so many Americans are to really taking their country back.

    But I can assure you, as I have said on many occasions, that, no matter what happens, I will work for the nominee of the Democratic Party, because we must win in November.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Barack Obama was equally gracious when he spoke at his victory rally in Raleigh. But while seeking to heal the divisions of a brutal primary campaign, Obama set his sights on a general election run against Republican John McCain.

    SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), Presidential Candidate: Yes, there have been bruised feelings on both sides. Yes, each side desperately wants their candidate to win. But ultimately this race is not about Hillary Clinton; it's not about Barack Obama; it's not about John McCain.

    This election is about you, the American people.

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    It's about whether we will have a president and a party that can lead us toward a brighter future.

    This primary season may not be over, but when it is we will have to remember who we are as Democrats, that we are the party of Jefferson and Jackson, of Roosevelt and Kennedy, and that we are at our best when we lead with principle, when we lead with conviction, when we summon an entire nation to a common purpose and a higher purpose.

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    This fall, we intend to march forward as one Democratic Party, united by a common vision for this country, because we all agree that at this defining moment in our history, a moment when we are facing two wars, an economy in turmoil, a planet in peril, a dream that feels like it's slipping away for too many Americans, we can't afford to give John McCain the chance to serve out George Bush's third term.

    We need change in America. And that's why we will be united in November.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Obama scheduled no campaign appearances today…

  • MAN:

    What a great day to be in West Virginia with the Clinton family.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    … while Clinton rallied supporters in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and talked about jobs, education and gas prices.

    Meeting with reporters afterwards, Clinton was asked about whether her decision to loan her campaign more than $6 million last month was a sign of weakness.

  • HILLARY CLINTON:

    Well, it's a sign of my commitment to this campaign. It's a sign of how much I believe in what we're trying to do.

    And my supporters have been incredibly generous. You know, they are putting money into this campaign on an hourly basis. I read their e-mails. You know, single moms who decide to give me $20 out of their paycheck every month, retired people who have never contributed to a campaign before.

    And, you know, I'm trying to make sure that their investment is a good one, and because we are being outspent. Everybody knows that. We historically in the last several months have been outspent 2-to-1, 3-to-1, 4-to-1, even 5-to-1.

    But we've remained competitive. And I have been willing to loan that money to my campaign so that, you know, we could be competitive. And I think it's paid off.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Clinton also was asked to explain the delegate math that keeps her fighting for the Democratic nomination.

  • QUESTION:

    You clearly seem determined to stay in this, at least through all the voting. But does there come a point when Senator Obama hits, I think, 2,210 delegates where you would say, OK, that's it, he's the nominee?

  • HILLARY CLINTON:

    Well, I'm glad you used the figure 2,210, because I think that's the right figure, because that includes the seating of delegates from Michigan and Florida, something that I have said consistently, as you know, Mike, for months now has to be resolved, that, to leave it hanging or to in any way discount and reject the votes of the people of Michigan and Florida would haunt us in the fall election, in my opinion. So, 2,209 or 2,210 is the number, and at some point one of us will get there.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the two campaigns held competing conference calls with reporters. Clinton strategists backed up her contention that the party is obligated to seat delegations from Florida and Michigan, which in turn would raise the number of delegates needed to win the nomination to 2,209.

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    How are you, sir? What's your name?

  • MAN:

    My name is Cameron. How you doing?

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    Good to see you, Cameron.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The Obama team rejected that logic, calling it another creative attempt by the Clinton camp to clear her a path to the nomination. They repeated that party rules stipulate only 2,025 delegates are needed.

    According to the Associated Press, Obama now leads Clinton in the overall delegate count, pledged and superdelegates, by more than 150.

    Today, Hillary Clinton did secure one more superdelegate, North Carolina Congressman Heath Shuler, whose district she won in yesterday's primary.

    But Obama picked up four superdelegates, that on top of former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern's endorsement, who switched from Clinton, saying, "The mathematics are against her at this point."

    The first of the six remaining contests for the Democrats is West Virginia, next Tuesday.