Politics & Government

Clinton, Obama camps spin madly after Pa. primary

WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton's campaign trotted out big-state governors Wednesday to brag about how well the New York senator had fared during their primaries.

Barack Obama countered with new endorsements from key John Edwards backers and Gov. Brad Henry of Oklahoma — a state that Clinton carried in February by 24 percentage points — and contended that he was closing in on a delegate majority.

The day after Clinton won Pennsylvania's primary by 9.2 percentage points — according to the Pennsylvania secretary of state's official returns — both sides frantically tried to show why the struggle for the Democratic presidential nomination was tilting in their favor.

The latest Associated Press delegate count had Obama ahead with 1,714 to Clinton's 1,589.

As Clinton and Obama began campaigning for the next two contests, North Carolina and Indiana, which hold primaries on May 6, no one disputed the approximate numbers. But they contested almost everything else.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe noted that Clinton was likely to pick up only a net of 12 delegates in Pennsylvania, and he emphasized that "we're only 134 away from securing a majority of pledged delegates." (That would still be short of a majority of convention delegates, however; 20 percent of them are superdelegates — party officials and big shots.)

While the Clinton folks didn't put up a fuss over that, they did make it clear that Obama keeps losing in the states that they say will matter most in the fall.

The Clinton campaign paraded before the media the governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan; each took turns recalling Clinton's success in their states and explaining how much that would matter in the fall against presumptive GOP nominee John McCain.

"Senator McCain will not be a pushover in Ohio," said Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, whose state Clinton carried March 4. "Senator Clinton is the one who has demonstrated throughout the primary she can appeal to people throughout the entire state."

Peter Daou, Clinton's Internet director, said the campaign received $8.3 million in Web donations in the roughly 20 hours after Clinton's Pennsylvania win. He said about 85,000 people, 70,000 of them new donors, made donations. The campaign invited the donations with a splash page declaring ``Keep the Momentum Going. Contribute $5 below."

The gusher of cash wasn't enough to erase the $10.3 million in debts Clinton reported as of March 31, but federal election rules impose no deadlines for repayment of those obligations.

She may need all she can get, because there's talk that the Obama campaign is about to get tough by raising some of the scandals that plagued Bill Clinton's presidency.

"We're not going to do that," Plouffe insisted. "We have not talked about those issues in the campaign and won't."

Instead, he wanted to tout the endorsement of Henry, who said he thought "long and hard" about his choice. Shortly afterward, the campaign announced the backing of "49 prominent supporters of John Edwards," the former North Carolina senator and 2008 presidential candidate.

Among them was Ed Turlington, Edwards' former national general chairman. No word from Edwards, though, who hasn't endorsed anyone.

(Margaret Talev and Greg Gordon contributed.)

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