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Clinton Supporters Uneasy About Slim Ind. Victory

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

It wasn't until early this morning that we could say for sure that Hillary Clinton had won Indiana. She won with strong support in rural counties.

And it was in one of those, Clark County, in southeastern Indiana, that NPR's Linda Wertheimer watched the results come in with a group of Democrats.

LINDA WERTHEIMER: Clark County Democrats were gathered in the Fraternal Order of Police Bingo Hall in Jeffersonville, Indiana, to wait for the vote to come in.

Unidentified Man: I just want to thank everybody that came out tonight. I want to thank my help. I know...

WERTHEIMER: Hillary Clinton carried this part of the state, 2-1, a major explanation for her carrying the state. But her supporters, like Bob Lewis(ph), who works for the Census Bureau, were not entirely comfortable.

Mr. BOB LEWIS (Resident, Indiana): I heard Hillary was ahead in Indiana, Obama in North Carolina. She needs to win both of those, and I don't think she's going to do that. You know, it looks like he's pretty much got the reins right now. I've had this feeling in my heart that with her political knowledge and background, something was going to pull it out for her. So we'll have to wait and see.

WERTHEIMER: Most voters simply thought Hillary Clinton was a better match for the mostly white, fairly conservative Democrats who live in Southern Indiana. Like the people gathered at Danny Boy's for a late party for a local judge.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WERTHEIMER: Rick Dickman(ph) works for the town of Clarksville. He summed it up by saying he liked Clinton's toughness, her savvy and her husband - but watching returns, he thinks Obama is more likely to be nominated.

Mr. RICK DICKMAN (Resident, Indiana): I'd like to think that Hillary has a chance to at least deny him a first-ballot victory at the convention. It would be better television that anything associated with "Dancing with the Stars" or "American Idol."

WERTHEIMER: At Obama headquarters in New Albany, Indiana, younger people danced on the sidewalk outside, ignoring the results, while others watched and wondered if they could have done more for their candidate. John Wilcox(ph) is a retired deputy mayor. He thought maybe Clinton's 100 visits to Indiana towns just worked too well.

Mr. JOHN WILCOX (Retired Deputy Mayor): He was here twice in New Albany. Her daughter was in New Albany twice. Bill was - President Clinton was one county over. They outgunned us, I think.

WERTHEIMER: Lacy Evans(ph), who's the pastor of a local Methodist church, thought Clinton had told voters what they wanted to hear when she proposed a gimmick, a gas tax holiday.

Mr. LACY EVANS (Pastor, Methodist Church): We just live in a microwave mentality. What can you do for me now?

WERTHEIMER: Only a few people were still around when the tide almost turned, when Lake County votes cut Clinton's lead to two points. Dustin White(ph), a local attorney who's been helping to run the Obama campaign in the south, was way too tired to celebrate. But, he said, Clinton's narrow victory tells him it's over.

Mr. DUSTIN WHITE (Resident, Indiana): Quite frankly, I think she's already lost. I don't think she's going to drop out until all the races are over, so. What I like about what's happening is that he's really - is able to set up an organization. When they leave here, there will be a strong team in southern Indiana ready and willing to maintain a presence for Barack Obama. And had Indiana not been a focus, that wouldn't have happened.

WERTHEIMER: Hillary Clinton still believes there are enough voters like these in Clark County to make her the more electable Democrat in November. But many of these voters are beginning to doubt she'll get the chance to find out.

Linda Wertheimer, NPR News, Jeffersonville, Indiana. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

As NPR's senior national correspondent, Linda Wertheimer travels the country and the globe for NPR News, bringing her unique insights and wealth of experience to bear on the day's top news stories.
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