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Clinton Hopes to Build Momentum After West Virginia Victory


Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton is looking for renewed momentum after trouncing rival Barack Obama in Tuesday's West Virginia primary. But most political analysts continue to believe Clinton is running out of time in her long-running battle with Obama for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports from Washington.

Hillary Clinton is pointing to her overwhelming victory in West Virginia to buttress her argument that she would be the stronger Democratic candidate against Republican John McCain in the November election.

"With a vision for America that rewards hard work again, that values the middle class and helps to make it stronger," she said. "With your help, I am ready to go head to head with John McCain to put our vision for America up against the one he shares with President Bush."

Despite Tuesday's win, Clinton is given virtually no chance of overtaking Barack Obama's lead in the overall delegate count.

Obama also continues to win over uncommitted superdelegates, the party activists and Democratic officeholders who are free to support either candidate at the national nominating convention.

Clinton is hoping her strong showing in West Virginia will give her a boost in the five remaining Democratic contests, including primaries next Tuesday in Kentucky and Oregon.

Clinton is favored in Kentucky while Obama is given the edge in Oregon.

Obama did little campaigning in West Virginia and continues to look to the general election with a strategy that focuses on the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain.

"There is too much that unites us as Democrats," he said. "There is too much at stake as a country, and there is going to be a clear choice when it comes to the election on November 4."

But Tuesday's vote in West Virginia contained some warning signs for the Obama campaign. Roughly 2-in-10 voters said race was a factor in their decision, and 80 percent of those voters supported Clinton.

Political expert Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia says Obama must find a way to win over more white, working-class voters to compete against John McCain.

"There are a number of pitfalls along the way, not least his demonstrated lack of appeal to downscale whites and conservative Democrats, and he is going to have to work hard to solve those problems," he said.

Also Tuesday, Democrats won a congressional seat in Mississippi that could signal major Democratic gains in Congress in November. Republicans had held the Mississippi seat since 1994, and the loss followed recent Republican defeats in two other special elections in Illinois and Louisiana.

"Republicans are very worried that the signals being sent by these three losses means simply that the Democrats will increase their majorities in both houses [of Congress] in the fall," said Marc Ambinder, a political analyst for the Atlantic magazine and CBS News..

All 435 House seats will be up for election this November as well as 35 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats.