Obama, Clinton Split Primaries; Obama “Within Reach”

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had predictable victories yesterday.

Clinton won by a wide margin in Kentucky’s primary, taking an estimated 65.5% of the vote over Obama’s scant 29.9. This win comes as no surprise, of course, because Kentucky’s population fits into the Clinton mold: white and blue-collar. Obama, meanwhile, completely dominated Oregon’s primary, where he won 58% of the vote. Senator Clinton took in a respectable 42%.

The Oregon win gives Obama a clear edge in pledged delegates, which led him to declare “We have an absolute majority” and he described his campaign as “within reach” of the Democratic nomination.

Said the Senator from Iowa, where his campaign got off to a rocket start back in January:

…Tonight, in the fullness of spring, with the help of those who stood up from Portland to Louisville, we have returned to Iowa with a majority of delegates elected by the American people, and you have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

The road here has been long, and that is partly because we’ve traveled it with one of the most formidable candidates to ever run for this office.

Mr. Obama is referring, of course, to Senator Clinton, who, despite public pressure and long odds, refuses to give up her fight for the Democratic nomination. She was careful, however, to stress the necessity of Democratic unity:

Tonight we’ve achieved an important victory. It is not just Kentucky bluegrass that is music to my ears. It is the sound of your overwhelming vote of confidence even in the face of some pretty tough odds. Some have said your votes didn’t matter, that this campaign was over, that allowing everyone to vote and every vote to count would somehow be a mistake. But that didn’t stop you. You’ve never given up on me because you know I’ll never give up on you.

This is one of the closest races for a party’s nomination in modern history. We’re winning the popular vote and I’m more determined than ever to see that every vote is cast and every ballot counted. I commend Senator Obama and his supporters and 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 in the fall.

In her effort for the nomination, Mrs. Clinton’s hoping Michigan and Florida, whose delegates have not been counted, will be tallied and help give her a leg up as the primary seasons winds to its seemingly inevitable conclusion. Both Clinton and Obama are headed to Florida today to woo voters and, hopefully, clean up the delegate mess.

While the Democratic battle still rages, Obama’s turning even more attention to the general election season by compiling a nationally-inclined campaign team:

Barack Obama is quietly planning to take over the Democratic National Committee and assemble a multistate team for the general election, the latest sign that he is putting rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and the nomination fight behind him.

Top Obama organizer Paul Tewes is in discussions to run the party, several Democratic officials said Tuesday.

The Obama campaign also is in discussions with staffers who will be dispatched to various swing states, but holding off on making announcements until Obama has won the nomination.

And that could happen any day now: Obama’s a mere 100 delegates away from hitting the nominating mark.