Hillary Clinton yesterday hoped for momentum from her decisive victory over Democratic rival Barack Obama in Pennsylvania to show she had the broad support to win the US presidential election in November.
But Obama emerged from the latest, and most acrimonious, bout in the state-by-state contest still holding a narrow lead in popular votes and in delegates who select the party's nominee at its August convention.
Clinton told cheering supporters in Philadelphia after Tuesday's vote: "Some people counted me out and said to drop out, but the American people don't quit and they deserve a president who doesn't quit either."
She was joined on stage by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and daughter Chelsea.
After unusually heavy turnout, she won with 54 percent of the state vote to Obama's 46 percent. The win paid immediate dividends for the cash-strapped New York senator, who said she took in $3 million dollars in the following hours.
Both candidates immediately looked to the next round of contests on May 6 in North Carolina, where Obama is favored, and Indiana, which is considered a toss-up.
Clinton survived a heavy advertising onslaught in Pennsylvania by Obama, who outspent her by more than 2-to-1.
In television interviews yesterday, Clinton said exit polls showed she had drawn support from the key groups needed to win in November and brushed off suggestions that she was running a negative campaign.
"If you look at the votes that I have received, and the coalition I've put together, it is a much stronger base on which to build an electoral victory" against Republican John McCain, she said in an interview with NBC's "Today" show.
She dismissed an editorial in The New York Times which called on her to acknowledge that "the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election."
"That's part of campaigns, and you know it goes back and forth. That's the way campaigns are," she said, adding it was one of the more positive elections she had seen.
The contest in Pennsylvania, where 158 delegates were at stake, opened the final phase of the Democratic duel for the right to face McCain. Nine more contests are scheduled before the voting ends on June 3.
The result followed Clinton's popular vote victories in Ohio, California, New Jersey and Texas, fueling her argument she is the Democrat who can capture the big and diverse states where the party will need to do well in November.
The victory in Pennsylvania cut Obama's lead in votes won during the nomination battle to about 500,000.
A partial delegate count in the state gave Clinton 75 delegates to Obama's 65, according to MSNBC.
The MSNBC count gave Obama 1,720 delegates overall to Clinton's 1,588, well short of the 2,024 needed to clinch the nomination.
Source: China Daily/Agencies