Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, elated by a strong collection of Super Tuesday wins, looked past Democratic rival Barack Obama to take aim at President Bush and his Republican allies.
“You know tonight we are hearing the voices of people across America, people of all ages, of all colors, all faiths and all walks of life,” she told supporters in a crowded Manhattan ballroom.
The New York senator is seeking to become the first woman president, while Obama would become the first black president.
Appearing onstage with her husband and daughter Chelsea, Clinton did not direct any criticism toward the Illinois senator who is now her only remaining Democratic rival. She focused her attention instead on Bush and his GOP allies.
“We know the Republicans won’t give up the White House without a fight. So let me be clear. I won’t let anyone Swift Boat this country’s future,” Clinton said, referring to the negative ads that helped defeat the 2004 Democratic nominee, John Kerry.
Clinton won the evening’s biggest prize, California, largely on the strength of robust absentee balloting that went decisively her way. California Democrats have been eligible to cast absentee ballots since Jan. 7.
She also won her adopted home of New York as well as Arizona, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Arkansas, where she was first lady for more than a decade. She also won caucuses in American Samoa.
It was an impressive, multiregional show of strength for Clinton, who managed to withstand a surge of momentum for Obama in the days before 22 states held contests.
Ever since her lopsided loss to Obama in South Carolina on Jan. 26, Clinton has crisscrossed the country in a mad dash to states as far flung as Arkansas, Minnesota and New Mexico. Her voice completely gave out on the campaign trail, and a television interview Tuesday morning ended amid a fit of coughing.
Through it all, she watched as her once-wide lead in most of those states appeared to evaporate in the final days of the campaign.
Obama, meanwhile, racked up an impressive list of high-profile endorsements, including Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his niece, Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the slain president. His campaign also announced an eye-popping January fundraising total of $32 million.
With so many victories in hand, Clinton congratulated Obama for his wins and said she looked forward to continuing the campaign and to future debates.
Obama won Connecticut, Georgia, Alabama, Delaware, Utah and his home state of Illinois. He also prevailed in the caucus states of Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota, Minnesota and Kansas.
With Clinton and Obama each expected to amass roughly the same number of delegates, Clinton strategist Guy Cecil told reporters Tuesday night that the campaign expected to soldier on for weeks to come.
“A campaign that wins will take the long-term view,” he said, noting the campaign would soon determine where to spend time and resources in the contests ahead this month. The campaign already is looking toward March 4, when Ohio and Texas hold primaries.