GRAFTON, W.Va. – Hillary Rodham Clinton toured the birthplace of Mother’s Day in rural West Virginia, offering Democrats a subtle reminder Sunday that her fading candidacy remains strong among women and blue-collar white voters.
That loyal base is expected to carry Clinton to a sizable victory in the primary on Tuesday, though it won’t do much to close the gap between her and Barack Obama, her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton’s lingering candidacy highlights not just her strengths but also how difficult it has been for Obama to make inroads among some key Democratic constituencies.
Clinton made a brief afternoon visit to the home of Anna Jarvis, who is credited with founding Mother’s Day 100 years ago. Clinton spoke to reporters afterward and told stories about women who have changed history by pressing for equal rights and breaking into male-dominated careers.
She highlighted her own mother’s working-class upbringing and quoted from letters mothers have written her recently.
“Keep fighting,” Clinton said, reading from one of those letters. “The fact is that you stood throughout the constant ups and downs of this race. You never wavered, and you never gave up.”
Clinton said her favorite letter ended, “It’s not over until the lady in the pantsuit says it is.”
At an evening stop in Eleanor, W.Va., Clinton quoted Eleanor Roosevelt: “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she’s in hot water.”
Though Obama has amassed a nearly insurmountable lead in delegates and has turned his attention to a general election against Republican John McCain, Clinton is pressing ahead in West Virginia and Kentucky – states where the demographics strongly favor her.
Overall, her campaign has remained alive largely because of her 60 percent to 36 percent edge over Obama among white women voters in the primaries so far. But among college-educated white women – the demographic of many feminists and of Clinton herself – her edge is much smaller, 54 percent to 43 percent, according to exit polls.
Even if, as expected, she racks up hefty wins in both West Virginia and Kentucky, it likely won’t change the landscape of the race. But Clinton’s advisers hope it will persuade party leaders that she is more likely than Obama to beat McCain.
Obama took Sunday off, spending it at home in Chicago. He has scheduled campaign appearances in Charleston, W.Va., and Louisville, Ky., today.
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