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A few reasons why Hillary Clinton still runs

May 16, 2008 |  7:43 am

If you're wondering why Hillary Clinton hasn't packed it in yet and ceded the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, we stumbled across a few reasons Thursday night as we hovered outside two Clinton fund-raisers here in the L.A. area.

Technically, there's still a chance she can win the nomination, though the odds aren't likely to draw many bets. But as we've seen over the last 15 years or so of Clintons in the national spotlight, they tend not to quit. And Clinton's grassroots supporters don't want her to quit, at least not yet, for reasons that have less to do with political maneuvering than with history and glass ceilings and pay disparity and being dismissed with a single "sweetie."

"I run a small business and we wouldn't still be here except that I'm stubborn, and she's stubborn," Pat Schilling of Irvine said in aHillary Clinton on the night of her West Virginia victory hallway of Newport Beach's posh Balboa Bay Club & Resort, moments after Clinton finished speaking. "I can really identify with what she's saying. Women are so used to being told, 'No, you can't do that.' Sometimes it just takes the strength to keep doing it." And no, Schilling said, the people inside the private, $250-minimum gathering weren't getting frustrated with Clinton's campaign. "That's why we're here," Schilling said. "We're paying for the next round. We want to be heard from. She speaks for me, and I've never had a president speak for me before."

And Clinton gave no hint that she was considering giving up. "She gave the analogy of the Lakers," said Stacy Brower of Newport Beach. "You're not going to get up and leave [a game] with two minutes left, are you?" 

Later, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Clinton made it clear she's staying in the race through the end of the primary season early next month -- and perhaps through the Democratic National Convention in August. "There’s something to be said for going the distance," Clinton could be heard telling the private gathering. Noting that other nomination fights have ...

... lasted to the convention, she gave a revved-up version of her familiar case for why she, rather than Obama, ought to be the Democratic nominee, based on large states won and electability in crucial general election swing states.

Both speeches were upbeat, high-energy affairs, tinged with optimism and no hints of resignation, according to people in the rooms. There were also no hints of the recent setbacks, such as the flow of crucial superdelegates to Obama, and endorsements for him by John Edwards and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

"None of that was part of the message tonight," said Elena Ong, a co-chair of the Century Plaza event and treasurer of the California Democratic Party. "There was tremendous passion and energy." Orly Halevy, a photography business owner, said it didn't sound to her like Clinton was ready to quit. "She believes that she’s the right candidate, that it’s not over yet."

Back in Newport Beach,  Julia Rappaport wasn't ready for Clinton to quit either. "She'll do great," Rappaport said as she hurried off to try to beat the crush at the valet-parking stand. "We haven't counted every vote yet."

-- Scott Martelle and Stuart Silverstein

Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images