From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
KYLE, S.D. -- In a somber speech before a small crowd on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, Hillary Clinton again pledged that Indian Country "will have a seat at the table in my White House." She also argued that the "ultimate question" facing primary voters is which candidate can win in November.
"It is so close, neither of us have the number of delegates necessary to be the nominee," she said. "We have three more contests in Puerto Rico Sunday, in Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday. We have to resolve Michigan and Illinois. I mean Michigan and Florida. And then what we have to do is determine who would be the best president, and who would be the stronger candidate against Sen. McCain. I believe I am, and I believe the states that I have won and the electoral votes I will win make a very strong argument for that."
Interestingly, as Republicans have begun criticizing Barack Obama for not having visited Iraq since 2006, Clinton mentioned that she has visited both Iraq and Afghanistan with the Arizona senator. Her last visit was in early 2007.
"I have the deepest respect for his service to our country," Clinton said of McCain. "But he offers four more years of the same -- the same failed economic policies and the same failed policy in Iraq. We need a change. The question for people who want to see a Democrat sworn in as president next January is who is most likely to win. That is the ultimate question to ask yourselves, because if you look at the electoral map, if you look at the sates I have won, these are the states that form the base of a Democratic victory."
As Clinton began her speech here, in the poorest county in the nation, she said she didn't come to "make a big speech," adding that the people here have "seen too many speeches" and heard "too many words that never translated into reality."
"I don't run for president because I need any more publicity," she said. "I don't run for president because I need the adulation or the celebrity. I don't run for president to live in the White House again. … I run because I believe that we can do so much better in our country, and that the unkept promises are corrosive. They undermine trust and accountability. They begin to eat away at what should be the relationship between our people and our government, and between government to government in Indian Country.
"So I'm here to make a solemn pledge, a pledge I have done my best to honor already as your first lady and as a senator, a pledge I will continue to honor as your president. I will be your champion. I will fight for you. I will stand up for you. And I will work my heart out for you."