Game On: Clinton Wins Crucial Texas, Ohio Primaries

Sen. Barack Obama concedes that New York senator "keeps on ticking."

March 5, 2008 — -- Still beaming from Tuesday night's comeback primary victories in Ohio and Texas, Sen. Hillary Clinton talked this morning as if she had taken back the momentum in the Democratic race -- and suggested rival Sen. Barack Obama might make a good running mate.

Tuesday night's four state primaries were Obama's best chance to deliver a knockout blow to Clinton and end the Democratic contest, but Clinton made the second comeback of the primary season by winning three of those states.

"Sen. Clinton is tenacious and she keeps on ticking," Obama conceded today on "Good Morning America."

Obama won in Vermont, but Clinton picked up Rhode Island, Ohio and Texas, a series of wins that has reinvigorated her campaign and supporters.

Clinton told "Good Morning America" today that her Web site received huge numbers Tuesday night and many pledged donations.

"[Voters] are clearly saying they don't want this contest to end," she said. "This election is incredibly close."

On CBS' "Early Show," Clinton was asked whether she and Obama could share a presidential ticket.

"Well you know that may be where this is headed, but of course we have to decide who is on the top of ticket," she said. "I think the people of Ohio very clearly said that it should be me."

Clinton still sits behind Obama in the total number of pledged delegates for the Democratic nomination, according to the ABC News count.

Clinton acknowledged the tight race and said Democratic voters now have a real choice to make because they know who is the Republican nominee. Arizona Sen. John McCain wrapped up the GOP nomination Tuesday night.

"This election is not only between Sen. Obama and myself. It is also between one of us and John McCain," she said.

Clinton said national security will be the campaign issue against McCain.

"I think national security is the issue when you are running against John McCain," Clinton said. "I have the credentials. I have the strength and experience."

National security was also the issue she used against Obama in the last week, highlighting it with an ad that featured a red phone ringing in the night and asking whom did voters want responding to an international crisis.

Clinton also said she will work diligently to make sure the votes from Florida and Michigan, which she won, are counted.

"They should count. No Democrat can win the White House without Michigan," she said. And the last two presidential races show it's hard to win without Florida, Clinton added.

The Democratic Party isn't counting the primary results in Florida and Michigan as a reprimand after those states moved up their primaries and Democratic presidential hopefuls said they would not campaign in the states. Clinton, however, won the vote in both states.

"I'm going to work as hard as I can to make sure they count," she said. "At the end of the day, we're going to be the nominee."

She also planned to begin campaigning in Pennsylvania -- the next big primary April 22 -- as early as Thursday.

Obama Says He's Learned a Lesson

Despite his losses in Texas and Ohio Tuesday night, Obama said he doesn't believe Clinton's ad critical of him on national security played a large role in the final result.

"'I don't think any one ad makes a difference," Obama said on "Good Morning America" today. "She started off with a big lead."

Obama said he is eager to debate Clinton and McCain on the national security topic.

"We just have to make sure we continue to work hard in the contest," he said. "We think we are in a very strong position to claim the nomination, but you have to give her credit, as we do."

Obama joked that he may consider a visit to "Saturday Night Live" to aid his campaign. Clinton received a ton of media coverage after she lampooned herself on the comedy show this weekend.

"I had fun the last time I was on 'Saturday Night Live.' If the opportunity comes up we'll have to talk," Obama said. "Maybe I'll even go on 'Saturday Night Live' when I become president."

Obama said his wife, Michelle, left the campaign and headed home to spend time with the couple's two young daughters.

"Being away from them is the hardest part of this campaign," Obama said. "They went to bed long before any of the results were out."

Obama added that his daughters were more concerned about receiving the puppy he promised them than whether he wins the nomination.

Clinton Gains Momentum

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.

Obama: 'This Is Not the Future We Want'

In a subdued speech to supporters Tuesday night in San Antonio, Obama maintained that 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 Sen. Clinton echo each other in dismissing this call for change."

McCain: 'The Contest Begins Tonight'

On the Republican side, McCain swept Tuesday's 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 [and] 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 today with President 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.

Comeback Kid

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 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 ratio 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 Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic superdelegate, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

Hispanics, Blacks Key Texas

Hispanics turned out in big numbers in the Texas Democratic primary, accounting for a record 30 percent of voters, up from 24 percent in 2004, according to preliminary exit poll results.

Hispanics went 63 percent to 35 percent for Clinton over Obama. Clinton also won white women in Texas by 19 points while white men split evenly between Clinton and Obama. The Illinois senator won 85 percent of black voters in Texas, who accounted for 19 percent of Democratic primary voters in the Lone Star State.

Many Texans took advantage of early voting rules; early voting is expected to account for 50 percent of the total Democratic primary votes, according to the Texas Secretary of State's office.

But earlier Tuesday Clinton expressed dismay at the peculiar voting rules in Texas, where Democratic delegates are allocated through a combination of the results from primary votes and caucuses. Texas apportions delegates in a complex system that may yield Obama more delegates from expected wins in Texas' big cities, while giving Clinton less delegates for expected wins in Latino areas along the border.

"When the dust clears, we have to ask some tough questions," Clinton told reporters in reference to the Texas voting rules, arguing that the limited window to appear at a caucus makes it difficult for particularly working class voters to participate.

Heated Race Turns to Delegate Count

Obama went into Tuesday's contest with a 110-delegate lead, according to the ABC News delegate scorecard.

Clinton has a very serious math problem. Almost regardless of what happens Tuesday and in the few remaining states left to vote, she will be behind Obama in delegates when the last primary vote is cast in Puerto Rico in June. That makes the role of superdelegates all the more important.

The Obama campaign issued a statement Tuesday suggesting Clinton must make a significant dent in Obama's pledged delegate lead -- an unlikely event given state polling and the Democratic Party's proportional system for according delegates.

On Tuesday the Clinton campaign accused the Obama campaign of Election Day chicanery in Texas, an accusation the Obama campaign denied.

The Texas Democratic Party said it has received concerns from both the Clinton and Obama campaigns about the other side improperly padding their caucus vote totals by getting primary voters to fill out sign-in sheets all day long rather than waiting until the primary polls close and the caucus process formally gets under way, but Texas Democratic Party officials tell ABC News they do not have any proof of wrongdoing.

Some polling stations in Ohio stayed open later than expected because they ran out of ballots. Election officials in Texas and Ohio said voter turnout was high, despite rain, sleet and flooding in some areas of Ohio.

The Democratic rivals battle next in Wyoming, Sunday, where 12 delegates are at stake, and in Mississippi, March 11, with 33 delegates.

The next big prize is Pennsylvania on April 22 with 158 delegates up for grabs. Many believe that if no clear winner can be determined before the final primary vote is cast in June, the two historic, formidable candidates could fight all the way to the party's Denver convention in August.

ABC News' Kate Snow, David Chalian, Rick Klein, Eileen Murphy, Andrew Fies, Kevin Chupka, Karen Travers, Gary Langer, Teddy Davis, Eloise Harper, Lauren Pearle, and Sunlen Miller contributed reporting.