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Clinton: It'd be 'terrible mistake' to pick McCain over Obama

  • Story Highlights
  • Clinton: "Grave error" for her supporters not to vote for Obama if he is nominee
  • Clinton trounced Obama in West Virginia on Tuesday
  • Despite being more than $20 million in the red, she vows to keep going
  • Talks of a joint ticket would be "premature," she says
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(CNN) -- Hillary Clinton on Wednesday reiterated her vow to stay in the Democratic presidential race, but she said it would be a "terrible mistake" for her supporters to vote for John McCain over Barack Obama.

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Sen. Hillary Clinton vowed to stay in the race, saying she's "not going anywhere."

"Anybody who has ever voted for me or voted for Barack has much more in common in terms of what we want to see happen in our country and in the world with the other than they do with John McCain," Clinton said on CNN's "The Situation Room."

"I'm going to work my heart out for whoever our nominee is. Obviously, I'm still hoping to be that nominee, but I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that anyone who supported me ... understands what a grave error it would be not to vote for Sen. Obama."

Clinton was responding to a question from a CNN iReporter who asked why she thought so many of her supporters would choose McCain over Obama. Watch the question

Exit polls out of West Virginia indicate that only 36 percent of Clinton's supporters would vote for Obama if he were the nominee. A bare majority of Obama's voters said they would vote for Clinton over McCain.

In response to Clinton's comments, Republican National Committee Spokesman Alex Conant issued a statement:

"Just as Sen. Clinton herself has questioned Obama's qualifications to be president and enact change, so do many of her supporters. The biggest mistake would be to raise taxes and prematurely withdraw from Iraq like Clinton and Obama have proposed," he said.

Clinton trounced Obama on Tuesday, carrying West Virginia by a 41-point margin. Because she trails him in pledged delegates, in superdelegates and in the popular vote, she's faced calls to drop out of the race.

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Despite her campaign being more than $20 million in the red, Clinton confirmed that she plans to keep going.

"I'm not going anywhere except to Kentucky and Oregon and Montana and South Dakota and Puerto Rico," she said. Video Watch what Clinton says about the road ahead »

Those five contests round out the primary season, which ends June 3.

Kentucky and Oregon hold primaries Tuesday. Clinton expected to do well in Kentucky, but Obama is the favorite to carry Oregon.

Clinton has continued to do better than Obama with the white working-class voters, and Obama continues to get more than 90 percent of the black vote. The racial gap has become a key issue in the media, but Clinton said she regrets "people exploding an issue like that."

"It's offensive. I think people vote for me because they think I'd be the better president. I think people vote for him because they think he'd be the better president. ... That's the way it's supposed to be." Video Watch the full interview »

Clinton drew criticism last week for comments she made to USA Today about having a broader appeal to white voters.

"There was just an [Associated Press] article posted that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me," she told the paper.

"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she added.

New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, a Clinton supporter, said "that was the dumbest thing she could have said."

Clinton conceded Wednesday that "he's probably right."

"Obviously, I have worked very hard to get the votes of everyone, and I have campaigned hard. I understand that we've got to put together a broad coalition in order to win in the fall. ... I know Sen. Obama has worked hard to reach out to every community and constituency," she said.

Clinton said the Democrats will have a unified party once they have a nominee, but she shied away from the idea of a joint ticket, saying talks about it would be "premature."

Obama said the same thing while campaigning in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on Tuesday.

"Sen. Clinton is still competing; we haven't resolved this nomination; I haven't won the nomination yet," he said. "I'm not going to talk about vice president this or vice president that until I've actually won. It would be presumptuous of me to pretend like I've already won and start talking about who my vice president's going to be."

Asked how she's able to keep campaigning each day, Clinton said that something always happens that lifts her spirits.

"A lot of the people who have worked their hearts out for me in this primary season, they're not quitters in their own lives," she said.

"It's been a privilege and an honor to have met so many Americans, been to so many of the beautiful places in this country, and I feel like I'm doing it for the right reasons."

Clinton teared up as she described what she called "one of the most incredibly gratifying experiences" of her life: having her 28-year-old daughter, Chelsea, campaigning for her.

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"She is an exceptional person, and she's worked so hard, and she's done such a good job that I'm just filled with pride every time I look at her," she said.

"She's doing it because she's my daughter, but she's doing it because, as she says, she's a young American who cares about our future."

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