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Clinton Beats Obama by Ten Points in PA Primary

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Senator Hillary Clinton has won the Pennsylvania primary, beating Senator Barack Obama by ten percentage points. Clinton received 55 percent of the vote, Obama had 45 percent. Pennsylvania was seen as a must-win state for Clinton. We get analysis of the results with Will Bunch, senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has kept her presidential campaign alive with a ten-point victory over Senator Barack Obama in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary. She won with 55 percent of the vote to Obama’s 45 percent.

Turnout was heavy at many polling places, with an estimated two million Democrats voting. That’s nearly triple the number who turned out in the past two presidential primaries in Pennsylvania. A partial delegate count from last night’s primary gives Clinton a net gain of ten delegates. Overall, Clinton still trails Obama in both the pledged delegate count and the overall popular vote. But the win gives her added leverage to stay in the race for the nine remaining contests beginning in Indiana and North Carolina next month. After her victory was announced, Clinton addressed supporters at a rally in Philadelphia.

    SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: Today, here in Pennsylvania, you made your voices heard. And because of you, the tide is turning. We were up against a formidable opponent, who outspent us three-to-one. He broke every spending record in this state trying to knock us out of the race. Well, the people of Pennsylvania had other ideas today.

    You know, the presidency is the toughest job in the world, but the pressures of a campaign are nothing compared to the pressures of the White House. And today Pennsylvanians looked through all the heat and saw the light of a brighter tomorrow, a tomorrow of shared prosperity and restored world leadership for peace, security and cooperation. After seven long years of President Bush, we’ve got our work cut out for us, and we don’t have a minute to waste. So it’s high time we stop talking about our problems and start solving them. And that is what my campaign is all about.

AMY GOODMAN: On top of her delegate and popular vote deficit, Clinton is far behind Obama in fundraising. Obama raised $42 million last month, doubling Clinton’s $21 million. The Clinton campaign says it ended March in debt and is urging supporters to donate. Senator Barack Obama, meanwhile, was already campaigning in Indiana, where he addressed supporters in Evansville.

    SEN. BARACK OBAMA: We have a choice in this election. We can be a party that says there’s no problem with taking money from Washington lobbyists, from oil lobbyists and drug lobbyists and insurance lobbyists. We can pretend they represent real Americans and look the other way when they use their money and influence to stop us from reforming healthcare or investing in renewable energy for yet another four years. Or this time, we can recognize that you can’t be the champion of working Americans if you’re funded by lobbyists who drown out their voices. We can do what we’ve done in this campaign and say we won’t take a dime of their money. We can do what I did in Illinois and in Washington and bring both parties together to rein in their power so we can take our government back. That’s the choice we have in this election.

    We can be a party that thinks the only way to look tough on national security is to talk and act and vote like George Bush and John McCain. We can use fear as a tactic, the threat of terrorism to scare up votes. Or we can decide that real strength is asking the tough questions before we send our troops in to fight.

AMY GOODMAN: For more on Tuesday’s vote in Pennsylvania, Will Bunch joins me on the phone from Philadelphia, senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News and author of the blog Welcome to Democracy Now!, Will Bunch.

WILL BUNCH: Yeah, hi, Amy. Thanks for having me back on the show.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Why don’t you start off by just laying out the results, how it broke down, the win of Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania?

WILL BUNCH: Well, Amy, I mean, it’s amazing, or maybe it’s not so amazing, but it really — it really broke out exactly the way people predicted it was going to break out, the way this whole thing started, which is that geographically, I mean, Hillary Clinton’s strongest spots were western Pennsylvania — the Pittsburgh area, she won overwhelmingly — and also the area around Pittsburgh the people tend to call “Deer Hunter” country, and she did very well in the central part of the state, which is — tends to be more rural.

And Barack Obama, you know, won Philadelphia, which everybody expected. You know, he won about 90 percent of the African American vote, and that’s a big portion of the Democratic vote here in Philadelphia. And he did well in the Philadelphia suburbs, although in — you know, I want to sit down this morning and look at the numbers again. It was a little bit surprising in that some early like exit polling suggested he was going to do better in the Philadelphia suburbs than he may have actually done. It looks like at the end of the night that it was actually kind of a split, that they split the Philadelphia suburbs fifty-fifty. And that may explain why Hillary Clinton’s final margin was ten percent — fifty-five-forty-five — whereas, you know, some final polls showed it might be like a five or six percent race. And I think the ground that she made up in the Philadelphia suburbs may have had something to do with that.

She overwhelmingly won Bucks County, which is an important suburb that’s just north of Philadelphia, that is kind of mixed. The lower part of Bucks County is kind of a blue-collar almost urban demographic, so — which is a strong area for her.

Just by demographics, you know, they each played to their strengths. Obama, you know, overwhelmingly won African Americans, and he also did well in areas that have high college graduate populations. Chester County, which is kind of a high-tech, upscale area west of Philadelphia, he won. And Hillary Clinton won the areas that were more unionized and more blue-collar. And you can’t also underestimate senior citizens, because Pennsylvania, as you may know, is the third oldest state in the country after Florida and West Virginia. We have a huge senior citizen population here, and Hillary Clinton won that overwhelmingly. So, given the demographics here, she was expected to win, and she won.

AMY GOODMAN: The African American population?

WILL BUNCH: I’m sorry, Amy. What did you say about the African American?

AMY GOODMAN: The African American population breakdown?

WILL BUNCH: The African American population in Pennsylvania is about average or maybe slightly more than average compared to other states. I think it’s about in the same twelve to thirteen percent range you find nationally, so — and it’s heavily concentrated in Philadelphia, which is why you see big numbers for Obama coming out of the city, although again, he actually underperformed what some pundits thought he was going to do in Philadelphia. Some people thought he’d get 70 percent of the vote here in Philadelphia. Actually, it looks like he got more like 65 percent.

AMY GOODMAN: And how does Pennsylvania compare to Ohio, another win for Hillary Clinton?

WILL BUNCH: Well, that’s a good question, and actually I got into that a little bit on my blog this morning, because a couple things. I mean, there are some differences. I mean, Pennsylvania is actually, you know, older than Ohio and perhaps, at least in parts of the state, more industrialized that Ohio is, if that’s possible.

But one thing that the Obama people are saying —- I forget what the final numbers were in Ohio, but I know that it was more than a double— digit loss for Obama. I think it was like fourteen or sixteen points that he lost Ohio by. And he did better than that in Pennsylvania. And the Obama people put out a memo last night, and obviously some of it was spin, but I think some of it was worth thinking about, in the sense that he did do — he, Obama, did much better among older voters, and he did much better among white males in Pennsylvania than he did in Ohio. You know, I mean, some of the spin is that his campaign is faltering or falling apart, but when you look at the big picture, these are votes that he started out not doing well in, and you can argue he’s actually doing slightly better among some of these voting groups. So, you know, I mean, so much of this just gets into expectations and momentum, rather than stepping back and looking at the big picture sometimes.

AMY GOODMAN: Clinton’s main argument is that Pennsylvania will be a key battleground state in November, and she has won it, and Obama couldn’t beat McCain there. Your response, Will Bunch?

WILL BUNCH: I just don’t see that. I mean, I think — you know, I think the closer we get to November, I think, you know — I mean, Democrats are Democrats. I mean, they’re never going to fully unify, but I think they will get fairly unified in Pennsylvania.

I mean, they each — they each, I think, bring something and lose something in running against McCain in the fall. I mean, I think what Obama wins is he does have that appeal to some of these affluent suburban voters outside of Philadelphia. And, you know, remember, historically, those voters were Republicans. I mean, these counties, this ring of four counties that surround Philadelphia historically has always been a Republican area. And it’s always been particularly fond of people who were at least perceived anyway as moderate Republicans, like the way that some people still perceive John McCain. And also, John McCain is supported by a popular former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge, which might help him some in the state. So the fact that Obama has pretty strong appeal in some of these more affluent suburbs, I think, is a good thing for the Democrats.

On the other hand, I think the argument that Clinton can make in her favor about November in Pennsylvania is her strength in western Pennsylvania and particularly among a group that your listeners may have heard of called the Reagan Democrats. The Pittsburgh area is kind of the Reagan Democratic capital of the world. I mean, you have this demographic of steelworkers and factory workers and coal miners who, you know, have been Democratic voters during the New Deal, and during the ’80s, you know, social issues caused them to flip and vote Republican in presidential elections. I mean, Hillary Clinton, I think, definitely holds onto those voters, whereas with Obama, I think it would be fairly competitive for those voters against McCain. So I think that’s her argument.

You know, the big picture again, I think Pennsylvania has been trending towards being a blue state for the last two decades. I mean, the last Republican candidate who won here was George H.W. Bush in 1988. John Kerry won here. Al Gore won here. You know, no matter what McCain has going for him, I think it’s going to be very hard for a Republican to win this state, given the economy, given the war situation.

AMY GOODMAN: Will Bunch, both candidates, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, came before your newspaper, the Philadelphia Daily News editorial board, looking for their endorsement. Can you talk about the questions you all asked them?

WILL BUNCH: Well, you know, I think when you take a step back, I think we liked both the candidates. You know, our editorial board ended up endorsing Obama, but we, you know, thought they both put on pretty strong performances. Some of it had to do with what you might call the day-to-dayness of the campaign, in the sense that the day that Hillary Clinton came to the editorial board was the day that the whole Bosnia sniper fire story was breaking. And in fact, you know, we made some news because we were the first ones to really ask her about it in person and got her to, you know, concede that she had made a misstatement or that she had misspoke on that. And, you know, that kind of overshadowed maybe some of her other policy discussions, which were good. Obviously, we’ve seen her in the debates, and she’s very good in handling policy questions.

You know, and so was Barack Obama. I mean, he tended to — again, if you’ve seen the debates, he tended to give kind of longer, kind of more cerebral, if that’s the right word, answers, but he still impressed people. I mean, for me, the one thing that stood out about Obama coming to the newspaper was I had a chance to ask him about what he might do as president in dealing with some of these news stories that came out this month about the torture policies and torture meetings in the Bush White House and whether he would ask his attorney general to look into these. And, you know, he gave a good answer. I mean, he’s obviously thought about it, and he said he wants his Justice Department, if he’s elected, to review these things. You know, he also is big on reconciliation. So the answer, you know, was a little bit noncommittal, but at least I was glad to be able to have a chance to get him on the record.

I mean, one of the things we really liked here in Pennsylvania about having this six-week primary is it was a chance for a lot of us to meet both the candidates and ask them questions; not just newspaper people, but average citizens, you know, had more of a chance to get a measure of these candidates. You know, so in the end, in terms of democracy, which of course is the theme of this show, I mean, it was a good thing for democracy.

AMY GOODMAN: Will Bunch, I want to thank you for being with us, senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, author of the blog This is Democracy Now!,, the War and Peace Report. When we come back, a roundtable discussion about the 2008 race.

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