by Rick Pearson
HOUSTON--Hillary Clinton kicked off a primary election day that will shape the fate of her candidacy by greeting supporters at an elementary school that also is serving as a polling place in the Texas city's east end.
"We think we're going to do really well in Texas and Ohio," she said of the two big prizes in today's balloting, which also includes Vermont and Rhode Island. "I feel really good about today."
About 100 people waved signs along a rope line set up outside the J.P. Henderson elementary school. The neighborhood is diverse but has a Hispanic majority--a key supportive demographic for her in a state in which she and rival Barack Obama are running neck and neck.
As salsa music played from across the school grounds, vans and pickup trucks displaying signs for Clinton and Obama repeatedly drove past.
While the campaign attacks have grown more pointed in recent days as Clinton looks to try to upset Obama's winning streak, she said the nature of the race has been polite.
"This is one of the most civil and positive campaigns that I can remember," she said. "This is an incredibly positive one and an historic one. There is no doubt we're going to have a unified Democratic Party behind our nominee."
Clinton was clearly buoyed by a new Washington Post/ABC News poll that showed by a 2-to-1 ratio that Democratic voters want her to remain in the race, even if she wins only one of the two major states at stake today.
"Never underestimate the intelligence of the voters," she said.
"This is a really invigorating campaign and its just hit its stride," she said. "We're finally beginning to draw those contrasts and differences and that's when voters start to zero in and that's what's happening now."