Game On: Clinton Wins Crucial Texas, Ohio Primaries

Huckabee concedes Republican race to McCain.

ByABC News
March 4, 2008, 1:03 PM

March 4, 2008— -- Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. has battled back from the political brink by defeating Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in the crucial voting states of Texas and Ohio, where the former first lady fought hard for Latino voters and the white, working class voters who have typically supported her in earlier primaries.

The headline battles in delegate-rich Ohio and Texas were considered crucial primary contests that could cement Obama's hold on the Democratic presidential nomination, or help Clinton continue to fight on for her party's nomination.

In her victory speech in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday night, Clinton claimed a comeback.

"For everyone here in Ohio and across America, who's ever been counted out but refused to be knocked out and for everyone who has stumbled but stood right back up, and for everyone who works hard and never gives up, this one is for you," Clinton told a cheering crowd of supporters.

"This nation's coming back and so is this campaign!" Clinton said.

A Clinton adviser said the Ohio win would be enough for Clinton to fight on to the next big primary in Pennsylvania on April 22, nearly six weeks from now the longest stretch of time without a contest in the nomination season.

"I dont see anyway she doesn't go forward now," a Clinton adviser told ABC News' Eileen Murphy. "We were outspent massively. Ohio clearly augurs well for Pennsylvania. We'll see what happens in Texas but in my view there's no argument for getting out," the adviser said.

In a subdued speech to supporters Tuesday night in San Antonio, Texas, Obama maintained he is still ahead in the delegate count and slammed his Democratic rival.

"No matter what happens tonight, we have nearly the same delegate lead as we did this morning, and we are on our way to winning this nomination," Obama said.

"This is not the future we want. We want a new course for this country. We want new leadership in Washington. We want change in America," Obama told supporters. "John McCain and Senator Clinton echo each other in dismissing this call for change."

On the Republican side, Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., swept the March 4 GOP primaries in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, and Vermont and now has the 1,191 delegates needed to become the Republican presidential nominee, according to ABC News' delegate count.

"I am very very grateful pleased to note my friends. that tonight we have won enough delegates to claim with confidence, humility and a sense of great responsibility that I will be the Republican nominee for President of the United States," McCain told supporters Tuesday night.

"The contest begins tonight," he said to cheers and applause.

At McCain's election night party headquarters in Dallas, a huge banner reading "1191" hangs alongside hundreds of red, white, and blue balloons.

McCain will meet Wednesday with President George W. Bush, who is expected to endorse the Arizona senator at an event in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Conceding the race, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., suggested his candidacy gave a voice to the millions of Christian evangelical voters who supported his campaign.

"Not only have we fought the good fight and finished the race but more importantly, we have kept the faith. I would rather lose an election than lose the principles that got me into politics in the first place," Huckabee said.

Breaking a 12 contest losing streak, Clinton won Ohio with 141 delegates at stake and won Rhode Island, with 21 delegates up for grabs. In Ohio, Clinton won women and won white men, with huge margins among women and men without a college degree, according to exit poll results.

Obama, meanwhile, racked up a win in Vermont's Democratic primary -- a win that was expected by both candidates and credited to that state's sizeable population of liberal and Independent voters who have typically gone for the Illinois senator.

In Vermont, Obama beat Clinton among senior citizens as well as among white women, two of her core groups. His focus on "change" prevailed over "experience" by nearly a 40-point margin.

But it was Clinton's hold on low-income, low-education Democrats and women -- key demographic groups in Ohio that could help her win in Pennsylvania over a month from now.

Clinton had the most at stake coming into the race, facing pressure to cede the nomination battle if she didn't win both Texas and Ohio, with a combined 370 delegates up for grabs.

Even former President Bill Clinton said she must win both states to stay in the race, although a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Democrats by a 2-1 margin think the former first lady should fight on even if she only wins one or the other.

Some influential Democrats suggested Clinton should drop out of the race if she wasn't ahead after Tuesday's votes.

"We have to have a positive campaign after Tuesday. Whoever has the most delegates after Tuesday, a clear lead, should be, in my judgment, the nominee," New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a Democratic superdelegate himself, said on CBS's Face The Nation Sunday.

Outside a Houston elementary school, the voting site for a heavily Hispanic area, Clinton indicated Tuesday morning she planned to stay in the race.

"I don't pay attention to what people are saying," Clinton said. "This is a long process as some of you have heard me say before," she told reporters. "My husband didn't get the nomination wrapped up until June. That has been the tradition that it usually lasted longer."

Asked about the ABC News/Washington Post poll which seems to support Clinton's perspective, she replied, "Never underestimate the intelligence of the voter."