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Pelosi: Democratic race should go on

  • Story Highlights
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says either Democrat would make a great president
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton facing renewed pressure to drop out of race
  • Clinton insists the Florida and Michigan votes be counted
  • Sen. Barack Obama's camp: "We're in a very strong position"
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(CNN) -- The race for the Democratic presidential nomination is "alive and well" and must continue, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls the high turnout in the Democratic primaries "something positive."

"The people should all have the opportunity to speak as long as two candidates wish to compete in those primaries and caucuses," Pelosi said during a news conference Wednesday to promote Democratic energy proposals.

"In a few weeks, we will be on our way to nominating the next president of the United States."

Sen. Hillary Clinton is facing renewed pressure to drop out of the race following Tuesday's double-digit loss to Sen. Barack Obama in North Carolina and a narrow win in Indiana.

Pelosi, D-California, said either candidate would be a great president. She said the "tremendous turnout" is "something positive that is coming out of this race."

Asked if she could see any path to victory for Clinton, Pelosi said, "You never know in elections."

Clinton on Wednesday fended off calls for her to step aside. Video Watch panelists weigh in on Clinton's campaign »

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"There is no cause for alarm, sometimes you [have] got to calm people down a little bit," Clinton told thousands of cheering supporters at a Washington fundraiser called "Generations of Women for Hillary."

"I understand that some people are getting a little nervous, and I have to say that there really is no cause for nervousness, because we will have a unified Democratic Party," she said. "I will work my heart out for the nominee of our party, and I believe that Sen. Obama will work as hard as he can for the nominee of our party."

Clinton added the differences between her and Obama are minimal compared with the Democrats' differences with Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee. Video See what all three candidates did on the campaign trail Thursday »

Flanked onstage by daughter Chelsea and mother Dorothy Rodham, Clinton told the crowd that too many people have fought to make history by nominating a woman to give up.

Clinton insisted that Florida's and Michigan's votes be counted, calling it a civil rights issue.

Both states were stripped of their delegates for scheduling their contests too early.

"I will be sending a letter to Sen. Obama and to [Democratic National Committee] Chairman [Howard] Dean expressing my strong belief that this issue about the voters in Florida and Michigan is a civil rights issue," Clinton said.

"We need to stand up and say the Democratic Party is smart enough to figure out how to be sure we don't disenfranchise two states we have to win when it comes to the November election."

Clinton closed by reminding the crowd she's been counted out before, only to win.

"I landed in New Hampshire on Thursday night down nine points and I won Tuesday. You can turn elections in a day; you can turn them in a week if you know what it takes to actually win," she said.

Neither Obama nor Clinton is expected to win the 2,025 delegates needed to capture the Democratic nomination.

Obama is ahead of the former first lady in total delegates: 1,845 to 1,686.

The focus of the Democratic race has moved to the superdelegates because they outnumber the remaining pledged delegates.

Superdelegates are party and elected officials who are allowed to vote during the Democratic National Convention.

Two hundred seventeen pledged delegates are up for grabs in the remaining six contests: West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota.

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Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, said his candidate and Clinton will "probably end up roughly splitting the remaining delegates" in those races.

"There's more superdelegates uncommitted right now than there are remaining pledged delegates," Axelrod said. "We feel by May 20, we will have secured a majority of the delegates. So I think we're in a very strong position here."

CNN's Alexander Marquardt contributed to this report.

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