Hillary's people ecstatic, predict 'shift of psychology' among superdelegates
PHILADELPHIA -- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) survived Pennsylvania, winning Tuesday by 10 points, and the mood is wildly upbeat at her election night headquarters here at the Park Hyatt Hotel. Tom Petty's anthem, ''No I won't back down, you can stand me up at the gates of Hell, but I won't back down,'' is playing when Clinton takes the stage.
While waiting for Clinton to speak, I stood next to New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine as he hugged Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio and then saw Philly Mayor Michael Nutter -- a young, change-oriented African American -- come by with the latest Clinton battle cry: ''A win is a win. . . . The money will come.''
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said the Clinton victory was the ''equivalent of a political earthquake.'' Hyperbole, perhaps, because Clinton was always ahead here. But Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was closing in on Clinton as this long primary contest took its most nasty, negative turn in Pennsylvania even as bread-and-butter economic issues were tackled by both rivals.
Obama invested so much in Pennsylvania in time and money -- the Clinton team estimated record-breaking spending, $11.2 million alone in media. He outspent Clinton almost 3-to-1 as his team grew increasingly concerned that Clinton would come out of the Keystone State with a double-digit win.
Delegates are awarded on a proportional basis -- so Obama is still the front-runner this morning in this close race. But the Obama team's worry has been that a Clinton victory -- especially the 10-point margin she earned here -- will open up all sorts of arguments for the uncommitted superdelegates -- party leaders and elected officials -- whose votes will decide who becomes the Democratic presidential nominee.
''There is beginning to be a subtle shift of psychology of a lot of the uncommitted supers,'' Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said. Or hoped.
Obama goes into May 6 contests in Indiana and North Carolina wounded by the combination of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, flag pins and ''Bittergate,'' reasons, perhaps, why he tried and failed to pick up blue-collar voters. All this will be fodder for arguing who is stronger to take on Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the GOP nominee-in-waiting.
Clinton did well with many voting segments. Late deciders broke in Clinton's favor. Obama won 92 percent of the African-American vote while Clinton picked off seniors and white men. Obama leaves Pennsylvania winning big in Philadelphia but not in the suburbs and the rest of the state. His coalition never materialized.
Obama's Internet fund-raising magic is giving him a decided financial advantage over Clinton, who has a $10 million debt. The Clinton campaign said that as of 11:30 p.m., $2.5 million had come in since Pennsylvania was called for Clinton, making it her best night ever.
President Clinton and Chelsea beamed while Clinton spoke. ''Some people counted me out and said to drop out, but the American people don't quit."
Clinton taunted Obama earlier during a stop outside a polling place in Conshohocken. If the front-runner Obama is so good, said Clinton, ''Why can't he close the deal?''