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
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss