Obama wins Oregon, moves to brink of nomination
By DAVID ESPO and SARA KUGLER, Associated Press
Writers 7 minutes ago
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Barack Obama stepped to the brink of
victory in the Democratic presidential race Tuesday
night, defeating Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Oregon
primary and moving within 100 delegates of the total
he needs to claim the prize at the party convention
"You have put us within reach of the Democratic
nomination," he told cheering supporters in Iowa, the
overwhelmingly white state that launched him, a black,
first-term senator from Illinois, on his improbable
path to victory last January.
Obama lavished praise on Clinton, his rival in a race
unlike any other, and accused Republican John McCain
of a campaign run by lobbyists.
"You are Democrats who are tired of being divided,
Republicans who no longer recognize the party that
runs Washington, independents who are hungry for
change," he said, speaking to a crowd on the grounds
of the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines as well as the
millions around the country who will elect the
nation's 44th president in November.
Clinton countered with a lopsided win in Kentucky, a
victory with scant political value in a race moving
inexorably in Obama's direction.
The former first lady vowed to remain in the race,
telling supporters, "I'm more than determined than
ever to see that every vote is cast and every ballot
But in a sign of confidence on the front-runner's
part, party officials said discussions were under way
to send Paul Tewes, a top Obama campaign aide, to the
Democratic National Committee to oversee operations
for the fall campaign.
And in a fresh indication that their race was coming
to an end, Clinton and Obama praised one another and
pledged a united party for the general election.
"While we continue to go toe-to-toe for this
nomination, we do see eye-to-eye when it comes to
uniting our party to elect a Democratic president this
fall," said Clinton, whose supporters Obama will need
if he is to end eight years of Republican rule in the
Clinton won at least 47 delegates in the two states
and Obama won at least 32, according to an analysis of
election returns by The Associated Press. All the
Kentucky delegates were awarded, but there were still
24 to be allocated in Oregon, and Obama was in line
for many of them.
He had 1,949 delegates overall, out of 2026 needed for
the nomination. Clinton had 1,769 according the latest
tally by the AP.
Obama's total includes more than a majority of the
delegates picked in the 56 primaries and caucuses on
the calendar, a group that excludes nearly 800
superdelegates, the party leaders who hold the balance
of power at the convention.
With about 50 percent of the votes counted in Oregon's
unique mail-in primary, Obama was gaining a 58 percent
share to 42 percent for Clinton.
The former first lady's victory in Kentucky was bigger
yet 65 percent to 30 percent and the exit polls
underscored once more the work Obama has ahead if he
is to win over her voters.
Almost nine in 10 ballots were cast by whites, and the
former first lady was winning their support
overwhelmingly. She defeated him among voters of all
age groups and incomes, the college educated and
non-college educated, self-described liberals,
moderates and conservatives.
"We have had our disagreements during this campaign,
but we all admire her courage, her commitment and her
perseverance," Obama said of his rival and partner in
a marathon race through the primaries. "No matter how
this primary ends, Senator Clinton has shattered myths
and broken barriers and changed the America in which
my daughters and yours will come of age."
As for McCain, he said he would leave it up to the
Arizona senator "to explain whether his policies and
positions represent long-held convictions or
Washington calculations, but the one thing they don't
represent is change."
McCain's spokesman countered quickly.
"This election is fundamentally about who Americans
can trust to secure peace and prosperity for the next
generation of Americans. Without a doubt, Barack Obama
is a talented political orator, but his naive plans
for unconditional summits with rogue leaders and
support for big tax hikes on hardworking families
expose his bad judgment that Americans can ill-afford
in our next president," said Tucker Bounds in a
In the fundraising chase, Obama reported cash on hand
of $46.5 million, all of which can be used for the
general election. Unless he takes federal funds, he is
permitted to raise as much as he can.
Unlike Obama, McCain is expected to take federal
funds, which total about $85 million and bar him from
raising other donations for his campaign's use.
"We still have work to do to in the remaining states,
where we will compete for every delegate available,"
Obama said in an e-mail sent to supporters. "But
tonight, I want to thank you for everything you have
done to take us this far farther than anyone
predicted, expected or even believed possible."
Both candidates paused during the day to express best
wishes to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts
Democrat suffering from a brain tumor.
"So many of us here have benefited in some way or
another because of the battles he's waged, and some of
us are here because of them," Obama said.
Said Clinton: "As a lifelong champion for social
justice and equality, his work has made the path
easier for me, for Senator Obama and for countless
others. He's been with us for our fights and we're now
with him in his."
The Clinton campaign expressed irritation at Obama's
decision to return to Iowa and mark his success in
amassing a majority of delegates won in primaries and
But he paid no attention. "The question then becomes
how do we complete the nomination process so that we
have the majority of the total number of delegates,
including superdelegates, to be able to say this
thing's over," Obama told The Associated Press in an
Clinton looked for a consolation for the strongest
presidential campaign of any woman in history. She
hoped to finish with more votes than her rival in all
the contests combined, including Florida and Michigan,
two states that were stripped of their delegates by
the national party for moving their primary dates too
early. A Democratic convention committee is to meet on
May 31 in Washington to decide how and whether to
seat delegates from the two states.
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.
The numbers do not include Iowa, Maine, or Nevada
caucuses, nor do they count as Clinton does in her
totals Florida and Michigan.
The only primaries remaining are Puerto Rico, on June
1, followed two days later by South Dakota and
David Espo reported from Washington. Brendan
Farrington in Florida contributed to this report.