HORMIGUEROS, Puerto Rico - Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday offered a spiritual defense for continuing her presidential campaign despite the long odds of overtaking rival Barack Obama.
Speaking to a full congregation at the Pabellon de la Victoria evangelical church, Clinton spoke in measured terms about faith in the face of adversity.
"There isn't anything we cannot do together if we seek God's blessing and if we stay committed and are not deterred by the setbacks that often fall in every life," Clinton said.
Clinton is campaigning for Puerto Rico's primary on June 1, which offers 55 pledged delegates to the national Democratic convention. The New York senator is expected to win the contest, thanks partly to her ties to the large Puerto Rican community in her home state.
Clinton spoke of her determination to stay in the race despite trailing Illinois Sen. Obama by nearly 200 delegates, with 2,026 needed to win the party's nomination. Obama was about 50 delegates short of the number needed to clinch - and Clinton says she will keep going until one of them does.
"If I had listened to those who had been talking over the last several months we would not be having this campaign in Puerto Rico today," she said, alluding to calls during the past few months for her to drop out of the race.
"But I believe this is an opportunity unlike any in recent history for the needs and interests and diversity of the people of Puerto Rico to be in the spotlight. This is an opportunity to educate everyone about this wonderful place," Clinton said.
Clinton took the stage after more than an hour of joyful noise - religious singing and dancing, led by an eight-piece band and 16-person chorus. Women and girls in bright red, blue and white dresses danced in front of Clinton, shaking tambourines as parishioners clapped and waved their hands.
"I believe in all my heart that what is happening in this church today is part of God's purpose and part of the community of believers that can in ways large and small transform lives," she said.
Clinton was spending the Memorial Day weekend campaigning in Puerto Rico, and may return again before the primary. Obama also campaigned in Puerto Rico on Saturday. He returned to the mainland to give a commencement address Sunday at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved