(CBS/AP) Hillary Rodham Clinton dismissed her Democratic rival Barack Obama on Wednesday as leading a movement with little to show for his eloquence and promises.
"It's time to get real about how we actually win this election," Clinton declared a fundraising event at Hunter College. "It's time that we move from good words to good works, from sound bites to sound solutions ... This campaign goes on!"
With her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on the ropes after ten straight losses to Obama, Clinton went beyond her frequent complaint that the Illinois senator lacked the experience to be president. She depicted his candidacy as a "campaign about a campaign" while casting herself as a champion of the middle class.
"Others might be joining a movement. I'm joining you on the night shift, on the day shift," Clinton said to loud applause and cheers.
The former first lady congratulated Obama for his victories in Wisconsin and Hawaii on Tuesday and acknowledged he had inspired voters to dream again. But she said she was the candidate best suited to fulfill those dreams.
In portraying her rival as more rhetoric than action, Clinton displayed some eloquence of her own.
"We all carry dreams in our hearts, and we need to keep dreaming. Dreaming keeps us hopeful; it lifts our spirits; it sets our sights high," she said. "Without dreams we can't aspire to be great. But without action we cannot turn those dreams into reality."
With polls showing Obama making inroads among white working class voters that have long been Clinton's base, the New York senator sought to recapture those voters using more eloquent language than usual.
"I know who you are. You pour coffee in the corner restaurant. You fix people's hair. You ring out the cash register," Clinton said. "You stand on the wall late at night defending our nation so the rest of us can sleep. ... You are the parents on the front lines of daily life determined to achieve the American dream."
Her reference to standing on a wall recalled a speech by actor Jack Nicholson, playing a Marine colonel, in the 1992 movie "A Few Good Men." At one point, Nicholson's character tells a young lawyer played by Tom Cruise, "Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? ... You need me on that wall." Nicholson has endorsed Clinton.
Clinton was headed later to Texas, where she is banking on a strong showing in the state's March 4 primary to help save her struggling candidacy. She is also competing hard in Ohio, whose primary is the same day.
"In a presidential campaign marked mostly by sharp turns, surprising development and shattered predictions, the Democratic contest has now become a story of remarkable consistency," CBSNews.com senior political editor Vaughn Ververs said after Obama defeated Clinton in last night's Wisconsin primary. "Obama continues to eat into Clinton's once solid base of support, splitting the vote among women, low and middle income voters and those without college degrees, while maintaining his strong edge among more affluent, educated and younger voters." (Read more of Ververs' analysis.)
Even the Clinton campaign -- normally reluctant to admit any weakness -- is starting to speak differently about their overall chances, reports CBS News chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod. A senior Clinton aide said that looking ahead they are "grimly determined."
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledged today that the Texas and Ohio primaries could make or break his wife's candidacy.
The ex-president made the comments during a campaign stop in Galveston. Mr. Clinton spoke to an early-morning crowd of several hundred people from the back of a pickup in the parking lot of the county courthouse.
"This whole nominating process has come down to Texas and Ohio," he said of the two states that share the same primary date next month. "If she wins in Texas and in Ohio, she will win in Pennsylvania and I believe she will win the nomination."
Meanwhile, Obama got the front-runner treatment on Wednesday, picking up a few new friends and drawing criticism from Democratic rival Clinton and Republican foe John McCain.
Obama's friends came in the form of endorsements from at least four superdelegates, pushing him a bit closer to the 2,025 needed to secure the presidential nomination, and two unions - the 1.4 million-member Teamsters and the 65,000-member International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.
The union endorsements provide crucial support in upcoming primary states with a strong labor presence - Ohio on March 4 and Pennsylvania on April 22.
With fresh momentum off his wins in Wisconsin and Hawaii on Tuesday, Obama drew 17,000 to a rally in Dallas, then headed into preparations for a critical debate with Clinton on Thursday in Austin, Texas.
Obama told his boisterous audience to reject "those who would tell you not to believe."
"Today Senator Clinton told us that there is a choice in this race," Obama said. "And you know, I couldn't agree with her more. But contrary to what she was saying, it's not a choice between speeches and solutions. It's a choice between politics that offers more of the same divisions and distractions that didn't work in South Carolina and didn't work in Wisconsin and will not work in Texas."
He said he will offer the starkest contrast with McCain in the general election.
"It's a choice between having a debate with John McCain about who has the most experience in Washington or having a debate about who's most likely to change Washington," he said. "It's a choice between going into the general election with Republicans and independents already united against us, or running a campaign that has already united Americans of all parties around the agenda for change."
Meanwhile, McCain, near clinching the Republican nomination, stepped up his Ohio efforts with an appearance in Yellow Springs in southwest Ohio, an overnight visit to Toledo, and Thursday morning campaigning in Perrysburg planned.
McCain, who watched his Wisconsin primary victory from Columbus on Tuesday night, also was stepping up his criticism of Obama. He accused him on Wednesday of engaging in "Washington doublespeak" over accepting public financing and questioned Obama's experience or judgment on foreign policy and defense issues.
A senior aide to McCain says there's a very simple reason why they're singling out Obama.
"We're prepared for both, but since Senator Obama has been on a winning streak and he's been dominating the news, we've decided to address our differences with him," Charlie Black said.
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