PHILADELPHIA — Sen. Hillary Clinton won the bruising Pennsylvania Democratic presidential primary Tuesday night and proclaimed that she, not Sen. Barack Obama, is the party's best hope for winning the White House in November.
"Some people counted me out and said to drop out," Clinton told a raucous hotel ballroom after taking the stage to rocker Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down."
"The American people don't quit, and they deserve a president that doesn't quit, either," she said. "I might stumble and I might get knocked down. But if you're with me, I'll always get back up."
Clinton didn't want to hear about spreads or margins in Pennsylvania's Democratic presidential primary Tuesday.
Instead, she repeated the line she used in interviews she gave before the polls closed and the tally was counted: Victory, not its margin, is what matters.
"A win is a win," Clinton told reporters Tuesday morning after greeting voters at a polling place in Conshohocken, outside Philadelphia. "Maybe I'm old-fashioned about that."
Later, however, ahead by 10 points with 85 percent of the vote counted, Clinton noted that she won in Pennsylvania despite being significantly outspent by Obama. She and other campaign officials repeatedly said that Obama's loss raises serious questions for voters and Democratic Party superdelegates about his ability to defeat Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, in November.
Obama opened his campaign coffers and saturated the Pennsylvania airwaves with radio and television ads in the weeks leading up to the primary. Obama and Clinton's cash-strapped campaign engaged in dueling 30-second television ads over the weekend, with each campaign trading charges that the other was distorting its record or being dishonest.
Obama's statewide ad assault helped winnow Clinton's lead in Pennsylvania, which had been as high as 20 points in some polls, to single digits in some surveys taken in the waning days of the campaign.
"Maybe the question ought to be: Why can't he close the deal?" Clinton said. "With his extraordinary financial advantage, why can't he win a state like this one? ... But this will be one more in a long line of big states — states that Democrats have to win. The road to the White House for a Democrat leads right through Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania Avenue."
Feeling secure in Pennsylvania, Clinton's campaign turned its attention Tuesday to North Carolina and Indiana, which hold their Democratic primaries on May 6. The campaign unveiled television spots in both states; a 60-second ad in North Carolina focused on Iraq veterans' health issues, and a 30-second commercial in Indiana concentrated on jobs.
After flying from Philadelphia to Washington for a quick rest, Clinton is scheduled to spend Wednesday campaigning in Indianapolis.