( Kansascity ) - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said emphatically Wednesday night that Sen. Barack Obama can win the White House this fall.
That countered her efforts to deny him the Democratic presidential nomination by suggesting he would lead the party to defeat.
"Yes, yes, yes," she said when pressed about Obama's electability during a campaign debate six days before the Pennsylvania primary.
She then added, "Now, I think I can do a better job."
Asked a similar question about Clinton, Obama said, "Absolutely and I've said so before" - a not-so-subtle response to suggestions from Clinton that he could not defeat Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.
In the 90-minute debate, both rivals pledged not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000.
They also said they would respond forcefully if Iran obtained nuclear weapons and used them against Israel.
They differed over Social Security when Obama, said he favored raising payroll taxes on higher-income individuals. Clinton said she was opposed. Obama quickly cut in and countered that she had said earlier in the campaign that she was open to the idea.
The debate was the 21st of the campaign, a struggle that could last much longer.
After primaries and caucuses in 42 of the 50 states, Obama leads Clinton in convention delegates, popular votes and states won. She is struggling to stop his drive for the nomination by appealing to party leaders who will attend the convention as superdelegates.
Clinton issued a first-ever public apology for having claimed erroneously that she landed in Bosnia under sniper fire in 1996 as first lady.
Moments later, Obama was asked about his comment that small-town Americans become bitter because of economic adversity, and as a result "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them."
He said he was attempting to say that because voters felt ignored by government, "they end up being much more concerned about votes around things like guns where traditions have been passed on from generation to generation. And those are incredibly important to them."