Fresh off her win in Pennsylvania’s primary, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton hit the campaign trail Wednesday as she addressed supporters in American Legion Mall in Indianapolis.AP PHOTO
On Monday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton told more than 1,000 supporters at the Scranton Cultural Center that she was glad they “had her back,” and she promised that, as president, she would have their backs.
A day later Northeastern Pennsylvania voters proved they meant what they said.
“Some people counted me out and said to drop out, but the people of Northeast Pennsylvania don’t quit, and they deserve a president who doesn’t quit either,” Clinton said through her spokesman, Mark Nevins. “I am pleased and honored to have received such overwhelming support from them.”
And as a result of her huge totals Tuesday in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, Clinton went on to gain a nearly 10 percent margin of victory over Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in the Pennsylvania primary.
“We knew Sen. Clinton would run strongly in an area where her family ties run deep,” said Sean Smith of Obama’s staff.
According to unofficial results, Clinton won Lackawanna County with 73.8 percent of the vote and Luzerne County with 75.1 percent. Her votes totaled 42,853 in Lackawanna County and 48,075 in Luzerne.
Clinton defeated Obama statewide by a tally of 1,238,232 to 1,030,703.
“I’m thrilled that she did so well in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty. “Gov. Ed Rendell mentioned how well Sen. Clinton did in our area when he spoke at the victory celebration (Tuesday) night.”
Doherty and his wife walked with Hillary and former President Bill Clinton from the elevator to the stage Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
“There was a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for her throughout the campaign,” Doherty said, “to the extent that people were asking their friends and neighbors to vote for her.”
Doherty said the numbers the New York senator received in Northeastern Pennsylvania were the highest margins she received statewide.
“It was a major part of her victory,” Doherty said.
Clinton called Doherty to the stage to join her in her victory celebration. He said she told him she couldn’t believe the overwhelming support she received here.
Doherty said Clinton managed to get the high vote count despite Obama being endorsed by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, state Sen. Bob Mellow and Lackawanna County Commissioners Mike Washo and Corey O’Brien.
“I don’t know if there’s ever been a margin of victory that large in a race like this,” Doherty said.
Casey was gracious in his comments about the defeat of the candidate he backed.
“I think it was a great contest for both candidates,” Casey said. “Sen. Clinton has roots in Scranton, and she and President Clinton have spent time here in the past.”
Casey said he felt that Obama will benefit from his experience here, having had to campaign hard. He said Obama will be well prepared for the general election when he returns to the Keystone State.
“If he is the nominee, and I feel he will be, his time here will be a valuable help to him,” Casey said. “But he has a long way to go. No matter who the Democratic nominee is, the contest in our state will be a key to victory.”
Doherty said Clinton’s win strengthened her argument that she is the “electable” candidate in the race.
“What it really comes down to is Pennsylvania and Ohio, and she’s won both,” Doherty said. “No Democrat has ever won the presidency without winning those two states.”
Primary is May 6 with 115 delegates
•North Carolina is the home state of former Democratic candidate John Edwards. The former senator has met with both Obama and Clinton, but has yet to endorse a candidate.
•Obama won neighboring South Carolina and Georgia partly on his strength among black voters, and blacks make up 22 percent of North Carolina’s population.
Primary is May 6 with 72 delegates
• Like neighboring Ohio, a large share of the state’s work force — 13.7 percent — is in manufacturing, and the black population is relatively small at 9 percent. The state doesn’t have registration by party, and the primary will be open to independents and crossover Republicans.
• Popular Sen. Evan Bayh and four other of the state’s 11 superdelegates have endorsed Clinton, while one is backing Obama.