Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed Wednesday to continue her quest for the Democratic nomination, arguing she would be the stronger nominee because she appeals to a wider coalition of voters — including whites who have not supported Barack Obama in recent contests.
"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
"There's a pattern emerging here," she said.
Clinton's blunt remarks about race came a day after primaries in Indiana and North Carolina dealt symbolic and mathematical blows to her White House ambitions.
The Obama campaign, looking toward locking up the nomination, stepped up pressure on superdelegates who have the decisive votes in their race.
In both states, Clinton won six of 10 white voters, according to surveys of people as they left polling places.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said that in Indiana, Obama split working-class voters with Clinton and won a higher percentage of white voters than in Ohio in March. He said Obama will be the strongest nominee because he appeals "to Americans from every background and all walks of life. These statements from Sen. Clinton are not true and frankly disappointing."
Clinton rejected any idea that her emphasis on white voters could be interpreted as racially divisive. "These are the people you have to win if you're a Democrat in sufficient numbers to actually win the election. Everybody knows that."
Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said Clinton's comment was a "poorly worded" variation on the way analysts have been "slicing and dicing the vote in racial terms."
However, he said her primary support doesn't prove she's more electable. Either Democrat will get "the vast majority" of the other's primary election votes in a general election, he said.
Clinton lost North Carolina by 14 percentage points and won Indiana by 2 points after competing full-out in both states. She had loaned the campaign $6.4 million in the past month. She said she might lend more.
"We should finish the contests we have and see where we stand after they're over," she said, referring to the six remaining primaries that will end June 3.
There were signs of unrest Wednesday, even among Clinton allies. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein wondered to The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, "whether she can get the delegates that she needs." Former South Dakota senator George McGovern, whose 1972 presidential bid gave Clinton her first political experience, switched his support from Clinton to Obama.