Clinton takes Ky., but Obama wins Ore., moves to brink of nomination

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Barack Obama stepped to the brink of victory in the Democratic presidential race Tuesday night, defeating Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Oregon primary and moving within 100 delegates of the total needed to claim the nomination at the party convention this summer.

"You have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination," he told cheering supporters in Iowa, the state that launched him, a first-term senator from Illinois, on his path to victory last January.

Obama lavished praise on Clinton, his rival in a race unlike any other, and accused Republican John McCain of a campaign run by lobbyists.

"You are Democrats who are tired of being divided, Republicans who no longer recognize the party that runs Washington, independents who are hungry for change," he said, speaking to a crowd on the grounds of the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines as well as the millions around the country who will elect the nation's 44th president in November.

Clinton countered with a lopsided win in Kentucky, a victory with scant political value in a race moving inexorably in Obama's direction.

The former first lady vowed to remain in the race, telling supporters, "I'm more than determined than ever to see that every vote is cast and every ballot is counted."

In a fresh sign that their race was coming to an end, Clinton and Obama praised one another and pledged a united party for the general election.

"While we continue to go toe to toe for this nomination, we do see eye to eye when it comes to uniting our party to elect a Democratic president this fall," said Clinton, whose supporters Obama will need if he is to end eight years of Republican rule in the White House.

Clinton won at least 47 delegates in the two states and Obama won at least 32, according to an analysis of election returns by The Associated Press. All the Kentucky delegates were awarded, but there were still 24 to be allocated in Oregon, and Obama was in line for many of them.

He had 1,949 delegates overall, out of 2026 needed for the nomination. Clinton had 1,769 according the latest tally by the AP.

Obama's total includes more than a majority of the delegates picked in the 56 primaries and caucuses on the calendar, a group that excludes nearly 800 superdelegates, the party leaders who hold the balance of power at the convention.

With about 50 percent of the votes counted in Oregon's unique mail-in primary, Obama was gaining a 58 percent share to 42 percent for Clinton.

The former first lady's victory in Kentucky was bigger yet -- 65 percent to 30 percent -- and the exit polls underscored once more the work Obama has ahead if he is to win over her voters.

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