Clinton savors delegate-less win

DAVIE, Fla. – She won big in the Florida primary Tuesday, but whether Hillary Rodham Clinton won anything that counts in the competition for the Democratic presidential nomination is much less certain.

No delegates were at stake, meaning Clinton’s double-digit victory over Barack Obama gets her no closer to the 2,025 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

Still, she did all she could to play up the outcome. Clinton jetted to Florida from Washington, D.C., for a celebration, savoring the win and casting it as genuine. Delegates or not, it was a better day than Saturday, when she lost the South Carolina primary to Obama by 28 points.

Her campaign argued that Tuesday’s result blunted any momentum Obama has received from South Carolina and the endorsement Monday of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and members of his family.

Speaking to a boisterous crowd, many of whom held up union signs, Clinton said: “I am so grateful to the countless Floridians who, on their own, organized, worked hard, talked to your friends and your neighbors. You made a very big difference.”

As elections go, the Democratic primary proved a muddle.

The national party stripped Florida of its delegates as punishment for leapfrogging other states in the election calendar, in defiance of party wishes. Neither Obama nor Clinton overtly campaigned in the state, abiding by a pledge signed to preserve the status of states that traditionally hold early contests.

So the import of Clinton’s victory comes down to interpretation.

Her camp made the case that the results could be a foreshadowing of Super Tuesday, when more than 20 states will hold election contests Feb. 5. In the view of the Obama campaign, the Florida outcome was a “beauty contest” that carries no more weight than a statewide poll.

And Clinton did not linger in Florida. She gave a seven-minute speech, shook supporters’ hands, then flew to Arkansas – her former home state, which votes Feb. 5. She was to campaign today in Little Rock, Ark., and Atlanta.

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