Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., picked up a double-digit win in Kentucky, but her victory could not stop Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., from winning in Oregon and capturing the majority of pledged delegates, passing a symbolic milestone on the road to the Democratic presidential nomination.
Clinton clobbered Obama in Kentucky, capturing 65 percent of the vote to his 30 percent. But in Oregon, Obama was chalking up his own impressive win, leading Clinton 58 percent to 42 percent.
Obama, celebrating in Iowa, stopped short of declaring outright victory, a move that would have angered Clinton and her supporters -- backing that he will need in November.
"We have returned to Iowa with a majority of delegates elected by the American people, and you have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination for president of the United States," he declared.
Clinton, reveling in her Kentucky romp, made clear that she intends to fight on.
"I'm going to keep making our case until we have a nominee, whoever she may be," she told a cheering throng of Clinton supporters in Louisville.
Claiming that neither she nor Obama will reach the magic number needed for the party's nomination when the primaries end June 3, Clinton declared, "Our party will have a tough choice to make."
Clinton's determination has come at a high cost. Her campaign debt has grown to more than $20 million, and the Los Angeles Times estimated in today's editions that the Clinton campaign is now more than $30 million.
In primaries past, the candidates worked to rack up states, hoping to see a check mark beside their name, or a distinct shade of blue in each state on a U.S. map that indicated which of them had received the most votes. But the game has changed.
Clinton and Obama fought for every one of the 103 pledged delegates up for grabs Tuesday, 51 in Kentucky and 52 in Oregon, hoping to use each of those delegates to build a case for his or her being the nominee.
"Tonight, we've achieved an important victory. It is not just Kentucky bluegrass that is music to my ears. It is the sound of your overwhelming vote of confidence even in the face of some pretty tough odds," Clinton told her Kentucky supporters.
Obama spoke to supporters in Iowa, the state where his primary campaign begun and where symbolically, it seemed, he was kicking off his national campaign.
"Fifteen months ago, in the depths of winter, it was in this great state where we took the first steps of an unlikely journey to change America," he told a crowd in Des Moines. "The skeptics predicted we wouldn't get very far. The cynics dismissed us as a lot of hype and a little too much hope. And by the fall, the pundits in Washington had all but counted us out."
"But the people of Iowa," he said, "had a different idea."
Clinton told supporters that it was not pledged delegates, but the popular vote that would sway the votes of the superdelegates needed by both candidates to sew up the nomination.
"Some have said your votes didn't matter, that this campaign was over, that allowing everyone to vote and every vote to count would somehow be a mistake. But that didn't stop you. You've never given up on me because you know I'll never give up on you."