Obama sweeps to Democratic delegate lead; McCain fattens GOP lead
Obama surged to the fore in the delegate race for the party prize with resounding primary victories Tuesday in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. On the GOP side, John McCain took another step in shoring up his credentials as the runaway Republican front-runner despite lukewarm support from the party’s conservative base.
Clinton, considered the overwhelming Democratic favorite just a few weeks, was left to turn her attention to Texas and Ohio in an attempt to pump new life into her suddenly stumbling campaign.
“There’s a great saying in Texas, all hat and no cattle,” she told a boisterous crowd of about 12,000 at a college basketball arena in El Paso Tuesday evening as the shape of the latest Obama ballot victories were unfolding. “Well, after seven years of George Bush, we need a lot less hat and lot more cattle.”
Before flying into Texas, she told a Cincinnati television station that “Ohio is really going to count in determining who our Democratic nominee is going to be.” She also declared herself the “underdog candidate” in the Wisconsin primary next Tuesday, the same day Obama’s birthplace Hawaii holds its primary.
In was at the University of Wisconsin where Obama characterized his surging campaign to a crowd of 17,000. “This is what change looks like when it happens from the bottom up,” he said. “This is the new American majority.”
Looking ahead to November, he said that although he honors McCain’s experience as a war hero, he is linked to failed policies put in place by President Bush.
“George Bush won’t be on the ballot this November, but the Bush-Cheney war and the Bush-Cheney tax cuts for the wealthy will be on the ballot,” he said.
McCain told supporters in Virginia it is clear where either Obama or Clinton would take the country “and we dare not let them. They will paint a picture of the world in which America’s mistakes are a greater threat to our security than the malevolent intentions of an enemy that despises us and our ideals.”
The Associated Press count of delegates showed Obama with 1,223. Clinton had 1,198, falling behind for the first time since the campaign began. Neither was close to the 2,025 needed to win the nomination.
His victories Tuesday were by overwhelming margins – 75 percent of the vote in the nation’s capital , nearly two-thirds in Virginia and approximately 60 percent in Maryland.
Obama moved past Clinton in the delegate chase on the basis of the Tuesday’s primaries and newly released results from last Saturday’s Washington caucuses. Additional delegates still to be allocated from his new victories were certain to add to his lead.
McCain’s victory in Virginia was a relatively close one, the result of an outpouring of religious conservatives who backed Mike Huckabee.
The AP count showed McCain with 821 delegates. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who dropped out of the race last week, had 288. Huckabee had 241 and Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 14.