There are many words to describe the junior senator from our state. Here are only a few, and all would be accurate.

Tough, intelligent, ruthless, charismatic, vulnerable, gutsy, obsessed, shrewd, plucky, divisive, inspiring, steadfast, feminine, prevaricating.

But not "defeated."

At least, not yet.

Hillary Clinton's must-win triumphs in Ohio and Texas, along with her victory in Rhode Island in Tuesday's primaries, were vital steps in her Lazarus-like campaign.

Had she lost Ohio or Texas, the drumbeat among Democratic Party officials for her to end her efforts to capture the nomination for president would have been difficult to ignore.

But now, she can rightfully claim to have won most of the big states that have been contested. New York, California, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas, along with the non-contested races in Michigan and Florida, all went for Clinton.

That gives her more than enough impetus to carry on at least until the Pennsylvania primary on April 22. She will make the case that her big states trump Barack Obama's apparently insurmountable lead in pledged delegates to the Democratic convention.

It will be a tough sell, but she's a tough lady.

Certainly, she got tough with Obama in the last week or so.

In speeches and television ads she questioned his knowledge of world affairs, harped on a relatively minor episode involving Obama's views on NAFTA and raised doubts about his relationship with a Chicago businessman accused of corruption.

All that seemed to help her because in Texas and Ohio most of the people who decided in the last few days voted for her.

Also helping her has been her husband. While Bill Clinton has had a relatively low-key public role in the last several weeks, he is one of the most effective and cunning politicians in the country.

"We are running against very determined and tough opponents," said Obama, referring to the senator and former president.

After Tuesday night, various pundits have predicted that the remaining weeks of the campaign will be a "knife fight."

If so, Obama might want to remember his Chicago roots and this advice from Sean Connery's Jim Malone character in "The Untouchables."

"You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way."

All figuratively speaking, of course.

It's hard to see how Hillary Clinton gains enough delegates to secure the nomination, but she has certainly earned the right to fight on.

That's one description of Hillary Clinton that no one can really dispute.

She's a fighter ... all the way.

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