Clinton faces her own Alamo as she battles Obama in Texas

Hillary's lead is long gone, as the Democratic candidates now run neck and neck in Ohio and the Lone Star state

If the next three days turn out to be Hillary's Clinton's last stand in the 2008 presidential race, then she could not have chosen a more appropriate backdrop for her last round of big Texas rallies.

On Friday night she stood just a few yards away from the Alamo, the hallowed shrine to Texan independence and American patriotism in San Antonio, where Davy Crockett and his comrades chose to go down fighting rather than surrender to the Mexicans in 1836. She could have echoed the words of William Travis, the commander at the Alamo, who wrote to the leader of the Texas army at the time: "Give me help, oh my country!"

Being a pragmatic, goal-oriented political fighter, though, she focused on familiar talking points and urged the banner-waving crowd, gathered on a balmy evening, to rustle up everyone they know and get them to vote in Tuesday's double-whammy primary and caucus. "One thing we've learned...," she said. "It matters who the President of the United States of America is... This presidency belongs to you."

The crowd chanted "Hillary! Hillary!" and the Hispanic union workers' slogan "Si se puede!" ("Yes we can!"). But the numbers do not bode well for the former First Lady. While she attracted a few thousand to her event, Barack Obama – holding a similar rally on the outskirts of San Antonio – drew rock-concert numbers.

The latest polls suggest Senator Clinton is, at best, in a dead heat with Senator Obama in Texas, and that her once formidable advantage over him in Ohio, the other big state voting on Tuesday, has shrunk to just four percentage points. Both are must-win states for Mrs Clinton, who has lost all 11 contests since Super Tuesday a month ago, and is already being written off by pundits and politicians focused on the looming election fight against the Republican John McCain.

Perhaps more worrying than the polls – which have been unreliable – are the turnout figures from Texas's early voting window, which began in the middle of last month and ended on Friday. Voters flocked to the polls in unprecedented numbers in Dallas and Houston – regarded as Obama country – but turned out at a much lower rate in Clinton-friendly south Texas. Mr Obama has announced he will spend election night in Texas, suggesting he is confident of victory in the Lone Star state.

But, like the soldiers at the Alamo, Mrs Clinton is determined to fight to the end. She was holding more rallies in Fort Worth and Dallas yesterday, and planned to return to Texas tomorrow night for a question-and-answer session in Austin.

She has also put out a controversial television advert, seemingly aimed at scaring voters into respecting her experience and gravitas. "It's 3am and your children are safe asleep," the voiceover intones. "But there's a phone in the White House and it's ringing. Something's happening in the world... Who do you want answering the phone?" A similar advert helped Walter Mondale, a former vice-president, deliver the coup de grâce to Gary Hart in the 1984 Democratic primaries.

But Mr Obama was undaunted. "Senator Clinton may not be aware," he told his San Antonio rally, "but we already had a 'red phone' moment. It was the decision to invade Iraq, and Senator Clinton picked up the phone and gave the wrong answer."

The Obama camp quickly put out its own re-edited version, in which the voice-over ends: "When the call gets answered, shouldn't the President be the one – the only one – who had judgment and courage to oppose the Iraq war from the start?"

In terms of raw electoral numbers, Mrs Clinton's best hope in Texas lies with the sizeable Latino community – a constituency that has stayed faithful to her longer than any other part of what once seemed like an unassailable coalition of supporters. She, and her husband, have spent much time in towns by the Mexican border; and she has recruited celebrities such as America Ferrera, star of television's Ugly Betty, to her campaign.

Mr Obama has attracted Latino support of his own, however. His entertainer-surrogate in Texas, the comedian George Lopez, has been far more effective on the stump than Ms Ferrera. One supporter printed hundreds of T-shirts for the San Antonio rally reading: "Obamanos" – a play on the Spanish phrase "Vamonos!", or "Let's go!"

For rolling comment on the US election visit: independent.co.uk/campaign08

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam