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Clinton Hopes for Resurgence After Pennsylvania Primary Win


Senator Hillary Clinton's convincing win over rival Barack Obama in Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary means the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination will go on for several more weeks, and perhaps longer. But as VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports from Washington, many experts believe Clinton may be running out of time and money in her bid to win the nomination.

A loss in Pennsylvania most likely would have ended Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House. So it was a thankful Clinton who told supporters that she now has the momentum to continue in the race indefinitely.

"You made your voices heard, and because of you, the tide is turning," she said.

University of Virginia political expert Larry Sabato says Clinton's convincing win in Pennsylvania will allow her to fight on for the nomination, even though she continues to trail Barack Obama in pledged delegates and in the number of popular votes won.

"Her theory of politics is really the same as her husband's. You stay alive in politics for another day. You live day by day and you hope that as long as you are alive you have the opportunity to serve as a lightning rod, and that lightning will strike," he said.

Democratic Party rules make it difficult for Clinton to catch Obama in the delegate count because Clinton would have to win the remaining primaries by huge margins to significantly cut into Obama's lead.

Clinton's immediate challenge is to use the victory to boost her fundraising. Obama has millions of dollars to spend in the nine remaining Democratic contests between now and June 3.

Most experts still give Obama the edge for the nomination, even after Clinton's win in Pennsylvania.

Obama keeps trying to focus on the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain, and reminds voters of his pledge to be a unifying figure if elected president.

"We are not as divided as our politics suggest. We may have different stories, we may have different backgrounds, but we hold common hopes for the future of this country that we love," he said.

But Obama is having trouble cutting into Clinton's base of support, and some Democrats are concerned that could be a problem for Obama should he become the party nominee in the November election.

"Clinton continued to win the votes of women, older voters and lower income households, while Obama won the support of African-Americans and younger people. No real surprise there. Clinton also won the majority of voters who believe the economy is the key national issue, and Obama won among those who think they want a candidate who can bring about change," said Leonie Huddy, a political science professor at State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Clinton is hoping that her victory in Pennsylvania will help convince the so-called superdelegates that she would be the stronger Democratic nominee against John McCain.

Superdelegates are party officeholders and activists who will attend the Democratic nominating convention in late August as uncommitted delegates who can vote for either candidate. More than half of the 800 superdelegates are already pledged to either Clinton or Obama, but the rest remain uncommitted.

Sabato believes it is unlikely that the remaining uncommitted superdelegates would be drawn to support Clinton if Obama continues to lead in the delegate count and in the popular vote at the end of the primary season in early June.

"Yes, I think they are having doubts. But that does not mean they are going to abandon him or not choose him. They are in a tough position," he said. "How do you say no to the first African-American candidate who has a real chance to win the presidency when he is going to lead in pledged delegates and popular votes? How do you say no when he is representing the constituency most loyal to the Democratic Party?

Sabato also believes that Republican John McCain could benefit from the lengthy and bitter Democratic race if it continues for the next few months.

"It is going to cause some trouble and Democrats are worried, and appropriately so, by the consistent exit polls results showing that a sizable proportion of the Clinton backers will not vote for Obama in November, and vice-versa. That is not a good sign," he said.

The next test for the Democratic candidates comes May 6 when Indiana and North Carolina hold primaries. Obama is favored in North Carolina, but the latest polls show a close race in Indiana where both candidates are expected to spend lots of time during the next several days.

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