Hillary Rodham Clinton said her Pennsylvania primary victory is for everyone who’s been counted out.
Still the underdog, the New York senator told a spirited rally in Philadelphia on Tuesday night that the “tide is turning” in her Democratic presidential nomination contest against Barack Obama. He would have all but knocked her from the race if he’d been able to pull off a win in Pennsylvania.
Instead, Clinton savored another big-state victory and prepared to pivot to Indiana and North Carolina for the next round. Former President Bill Clinton joined his wife on the primary night stage for the first time since Super Tuesday on Feb. 5, and the two shared a long embrace.
“You know, some people counted me out and said to drop out,” she told supporters, who roared their disapproval of that idea. “But the American people don’t quit and they deserve a president who doesn’t quit, either.”
Clinton still faces a daunting road, thanks to Obama’s earlier string of victories, and a diminished field of contests still ahead. She was hoping that party leaders known as super-delegates would see her Pennsylvania victory as validation of her claim that she’s the one with the experience and judgment to take on the issues Americans care about.
“For six weeks, Senator Obama and I crisscrossed the state ... being judged side by side, making our best case,” she said. “You listened and today you chose. With two wars abroad and an economic crisis here at home, you know the stakes are high and the challenges are great. But you also know the possibilities ... are endless with a president who’s ready to lead on Day One.”
She prevailed in a particularly bitter contest that threatened to polarize Democrats as Republican John McCain cruises on in preparation for the fall campaign. Clinton was the longtime leader in Pennsylvania opinion polls and saw that advantage shrink closer to the primary.
“We were up against a formidable opponent,” she said. “He broke every spending record in this state, trying to knock us out of this race. Well, the people of Pennsylvania had other ideas.”