Clinton lends campaign $6.4M for ongoing primary fight

Hillary Rodham Clinton lent her campaign $6.4 million in the last month, a campaign aide said Wednesday, and she and Barack Obama plunged back into the still-unresolved battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama closed in on a history-making presidential nomination Tuesday — sweeping the North Carolina primary and holding Clinton to a narrow victory in Indiana that raised questions about the future of her campaign. He planned to be off the campaign trail Wednesday, spending time in Chicago before heading to Washington, D.C.

But Clinton made an appearance in Shepherdstown, W. Va., where she talked about the economy, her proposed gas tax plan, health care, education and the Iraq war.

"I am staying in the race until there is a nominee," Clinton told reporters later. She planned to campaign Thursday in the state, which holds its Democratic primary Tuesday.

Clinton's campaign moved quickly Wednesday to dispel any notion that her bid could be coming to an end.

On a conference call with reporters, Clinton campaign chief strategist Geoff Garin painted both primary results as good news for the New York senator.

"We're pleased with our result in Indiana," he said, because Clinton "came from behind to achieve a primary victory."

As for the loss in North Carolina, Garin said the results there "also in an important respect represent progress for us" because Clinton carried white voters in the state by "24 points."

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson also told reporters Wednesday that the senator had lent her campaign another $6.4 million between mid-April and May 5. Her campaign reported raising $10 million online after her victory April 22 in Pennsylvania, but Obama has outspent Clinton in primary after primary, and has shown little difficulty raising large sums of money. He spent more than $7 million on advertising head of Tuesday's primaries in North Carolina and Indiana to her nearly $4 million.

In another development Wednesday, former Sen. George McGovern, an early supporter of Clinton, urged her to drop out of the race and endorsed Obama.

After watching the returns from North Carolina and Indiana, McGovern said Wednesday it's virtually impossible for Clinton to win the nomination.

The 1972 Democratic presidential nominee called former President Clinton to tell him of the decision, adding that he remains close friends with the Clintons."I will hold them in affection and admiration all of my days," he said of the Clintons.

McGovern said he and Bill Clinton "had a very friendly conversation...we didn't have one single angry word."

Obama supporter Sen. John Kerry said Wednesday he thought the race changed fundamentally on Tuesday.

Obama, he said, "clearly did more than he had to and she (Clinton) did not achieve what she had to...He beat every poll and he beat every expectation."

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said in a conference call Wednesday that "we can see the finish line."

Obama, he said, needs just 33 more "elected" delegates to have won the majority of those that have been at stake. He predicted that Obama will cross that mark on May 20, with primaries in Oregon and Kentucky.

In the same conference call, three Obama supporters, Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Gov. Janet Napolitano told reporters it's not up to them or other Democratic leaders to tell Clinton when it's time to leave the race.

"As much as we believe in Barack Obama and know what a great president he will be, there is a sincere respect for Hillary Clinton in this campaign," McCaskill said. "It would be inappropriate and awkward and wrong for any of us to tell Sen. Clinton when it is time for the race to be over. ... This is her decision and only her decision. We're confident she's going to do the right thing."

According to estimates by the Associated Press, Obama was 184.5 delegates shy of the 2,025 needed to secure the Democratic nomination on Wednesday.

More importantly, his resounding victory in one state and strong finish in the other could convince party leaders known as superdelegates that he had weathered questions about his electability and a controversy over inflammatory comments by his former pastor.

"The supers have had enough," said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. "I think it's going to end very quickly. The superdelegates will close ranks behind him."

Four more superdelegates declared for Obama on Wednesday. The Associated Press reported that Jennifer McClellan, a member of the Virginia state assembly, switched from Clinton to Obama.

In addition, the Obama campaign announced support from three previously uncommitted superdelegates: North Carolina Democratic party chairman Jerry Meek, Jeanette Council, a member of the Democratic National Committee from North Carolina, and California DNC member Inola Henry.

On the Clinton side, Rep. Heath Shuler, of North Carolina, declared his support for the senator from New York. Shuler had said before Tuesday's primary that he would endorse the candidate who won the most votes in his district.

Obama, who, if successful, would be the first African-American nominated by a major party for the presidency, seemed relaxed and triumphant when he addressed a victory rally Tuesday in Raleigh, N.C. He said he had prevailed in a "big state, a swing state," and one in which Clinton had suggested a loss by him could be a "game-changer."

"But today, what North Carolina decided is that the only game that needs changing is the one in Washington, D.C.," he said. Despite "bruised feelings" on both sides, he vowed that Democrats would come together in the fall election.

Clinton addressed supporters in Indianapolis and claimed a win there — although hours passed between the speech and the time her narrow victory was assured.

"Well, tonight, we've come from behind, we've broken the tie, and thanks to you, it's full speed on to the White House," the New York senator said, husband Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea by her side.

Clinton — who would be the first woman nominated — announced campaign stops Thursday in West Virginia, South Dakota and Oregon. But the disappointing results Tuesday — including a rout in North Carolina after the campaign devoted enormous resources there — could make it difficult for her to raise money to compete effectively in the handful of states that remain.

She is favored in West Virginia next Tuesday, Kentucky on May 20 and Puerto Rico on June 1. Obama is favored in Oregon on May 20 and Montana and South Dakota on June 3.

The bigger remaining prizes are about 270 undeclared superdelegates and 367 delegates from Michigan and Florida, in dispute because their primaries were held before party rules allowed.

In North Carolina and Indiana, the demography of each candidate's support was familiar: Obama won nine of 10 blacks and big majorities of young people, city dwellers and the most highly educated voters.

Clinton won big among seniors, white women, Catholics and blue-collar workers — core Democratic groups that Obama had worked hard to attract.

The contests in both states turned on the economy. In surveys of voters as they left polling places, two of three voters called it the most important issue. Just one in five cited the Iraq war.

Contributing: Mark Memmott in McLean, Va.