Barack Obama is inching ever closer to locking up the Democratic presidential nomination despite another resounding loss to Hillary Rodham Clinton, this time in Kentucky.
Clinton beat Obama by 35 percentage points in Kentucky, after trouncing him by 41 percentage points in West Virginia last week, and has won five of the last seven primaries.
Once all the delegates were allocated from Tuesday's contests in Oregon and Kentucky, however, Obama was expected to be within 60 of the magic 2,026 needed to cinch the nomination. With 80 percent of the vote counted, he was winning Oregon by a 58-42 percent margin.
"Tonight, in the fullness of spring, with the help of those who stood up from Portland to Louisville, we have returned to Iowa with a majority of delegates elected by the American people and you have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination for president of the United States of America," Obama said Tuesday evening at a rally in Des Moines.
As he nears the Democratic prize, Obama has been concentrating his campaign more and more on John McCain, the Republican nominee-in-waiting, rather than on Clinton.
But Clinton insists she still sees a path to the nomination by winning over the party leaders and elected officials known as superdelegates, whose support will be needed for either candidate to be clinch the nomination.
"Neither Senator Obama nor I will have reached that magic number when the voting ends on June 3," she said Tuesday night in Kentucky. "And so, our party will have a tough choice to make — who's ready to lead our party at the top of our ticket, who is ready to defeat Senator McCain in the swing states and among swing voters."
She also continued to insist that Michigan and Florida Democrats deserve to have their votes counted, a reference to the lingering controversy surrounding primaries in both states held in defiance of Democratic National Committee rules.
Clinton and Obama both planned lunchtime campaign appearances in Florida on Wednesday and Clinton once again underscored the need for Democratic unity in November.
"While we continue to go toe-to-toe for this nomination, we do see eye-to-eye when it comes to uniting our party to elect a Democratic president this fall," she said Tuesday evening.
Clinton won at least 54 delegates in the delegates from Kentucky and Oregon and Obama won at least 39, according to an analysis of election returns by The Associated Press. All 51 delegates from Kentucky were awarded but there were still 10 of 52 to be allocated in Oregon.
Obama has an overall total of 1,956 delegates, including endorsements from party and elected officials known as superdelegates. Clinton has 1,776, including superdelegates, according the latest tally by the AP.