Clinton stays cool as ice-storm heads in

Sensing the possibility of an 11th-hour reversal of fortune in her favour, a newly energised Hillary Clinton made one final tear across Ohio and Texas, urging her supporters to rally their friends and families today for what she called "a big vote for a big decision".

With the future of her presidential campaign on the line, Senator Clinton emphasised again and again that she is a fighter who won't quit now and won't quit if she ever gets back to the White House.

She was, she told cheering supporters at her final election eve rally in Austin, the Texas capital, as idealistic and determined to change the country now as she was as a 24-year-old volunteer registering Hispanic voters in South Texas in 1972. All that had changed, she said, was that she was older. "I have," she said to laughter and applause, "earned every wrinkle on my face."

The former First Lady appeared heartened by evidence that some of the mud she has spent the past week hurling at her Democratic primary opponent, Barack Obama, may at last be sticking. Senator Obama, who closed out his own campaign with a typically packed appearance three hours' drive away from her in Houston, found himself on the defensive on several fronts – fending off accusations that his campaign had privately told the Canadian government not to take his populist anti-free trade rhetoric too seriously, and distancing himself from a former donor, Chicago property developer Tony Rezko, who went on trial yesterday on political corruption charges.

He has also had to answer charges that he isn't seasoned enough to handle a full-blown national security crisis – the subject of a controversial Clinton scare advert featuring sleeping children and a phone ringing in the middle of the night – and battle against a long-standing rumour that he is Muslim. (He is in fact a practising Christian.)

As much as possible, Senator Obama has sought to turn the accusation back on his attackers. He called a special news conference to point out that the Clintons were the original promoters of the North American Free Trade Agreement – a treaty with Mexico and Canada widely blamed by struggling working-class Democrats for chasing jobs and companies out of the United States.

He put out an advert of his own to suggest that what he may lack in experience, Senator Clinton lacks in judgement – starting with her vote to authorise the Iraq war. He did his best to portray the Rezko scandal as old news and the trial as something that had little or nothing to do with him.

At the very least, though, Mr Obama lost control of both his own campaign message and the storyline being peddled on the television news and the cable chat shows in the all-important 24 hours leading up to the vote. Final tracking polls in both Ohio and Texas, the two key battlegrounds, suggested movement away from him. Despite multiple caveats about the reliability of polls in this see-saw of a primary campaign, he is still the favourite to win Texas – albeit by a small margin – but could lose Ohio by as much as 10 points.

In the two smaller contests also taking place today, Mrs Clinton is expected to win Rhode Island, while Mr Obama was on course to take Vermont.

Mrs Clinton's own husband, former president Bill Clinton, has acknowledged she needs to win both Ohio and Texas to snag the Democratic presidential nomination. Whatever her own feelings, she is likely to come under relentless pressure from her party to pull out if she loses one or both.

There is, however, a possible grey area somewhere between victory and defeat. If she loses Texas only by a tiny margin, or if – as is distinctly possible under the Lone Star State's arcane rules – she wins the popular vote but loses the delegate count, she may still try to make the case that the tide has turned and she has reason to keep campaigning for the Pennsylvania primary on April 22.

Complicating matters further was the weather. Forecasters predicted a withering ice-storm across much of northern Ohio, which could not only keep some voters away but could also knock out power at polling stations. In Texas, the area around Dallas in the north of the state was under a highly unusual snow alert, and the rest of the state was shivering in cold temperatures and bitter high winds.

None of that seemed to deter Senator Clinton at her final rally in Austin. Before she spoke, she sent a cheerleader out to warm up the crowd and teach them chants in preparation for tomorrow night's caucuses which will follow on directly from the close of the primary polls under Texas's peculiar hybrid system. "When I say 'Hillary', you say 'Texas'," the cheerleader yelled. "When I say 'Madam', you say 'President'!"

Mrs Clinton engaged in some cheerleading of her own by the end of her speech. "I'm ready if you are willing," she said. "Let's go out and make history tomorrow."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Support - Helpdesk Analyst

£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a customer focu...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Learning & Development Manager - North London - £53,000

£45000 - £53000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Learning & Develo...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - Magazines

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's largest regional newspaper pub...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn