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Hillary calls Dem race civil and positive

From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
HOUSTON -- As yet another round of crucial primaries in four states got underway Tuesday, Hillary Clinton said she was optimistic about the race and called this one of the most civil primary contests she could remember.

"I feel really good about today. We have a great campaign going on across Texas," she told reporters after greeting voters outside a polling site at a school here. "The voters of Texas are really focused on the two most important issues, national security and the economy, and I think there's going to be a tremendous turnout across Texas today. And I'm thrilled at what's happening in this campaign, what's happening in Ohio. It just feels really good,"

Clinton would not comment on whether she would compete in upcoming contests in Wyoming or Mississippi, saying instead she would focus on today. "This is a very close race and we're just taking it day by day. It's a long road to the nomination, and I feel good about where we are," she said, reminding reporters that her husband did not clench the party's nod until June. (Of course, her husband didn't begin his battle for the nomination nearly 12 months before the first contest like she did.)

When asked about the concerns of some Democrats that an increasingly negative race could damage the party's prospects in November, Clinton disagreed. "Maybe it's just because I've been involved in a lot of elections going back a long time. This is one of the most civil and positive campaigns that I can remember. There are contrasts, and it is imperative that those contrasts be drawn because voters in Democratic primaries have to decide who they think will be both the best president and the best nominee and you can't do that unless you put out your record and what the differences are," she said, before going on to reiterate her belief that the party would be unified and would win in the fall.

She would not comment on whether she should have begun drawing contrast with Obama earlier in the campaign.
     
Clinton said the Democratic race had reinvigorated the party in Texas. But she again raised questions about the caucus process, relevant today because Texas Democrats choose a third of the delegates in party conventions that take place later tonight. Clinton has long argued that caucuses are unrepresentative in part because of the strict time constraints placed on voters who want to take part in them. Today and at rallies here in the last few days, she has been sure to remind voters to take part in both the primary and the caucuses.

Over the weekend, Clinton backer and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros urged supporters to make sure to caucus to avoid a situation in which the senator wins the popular vote but loses the caucus.