Among the many things Barack Obama said Tuesday was that the millions of people who support him "believe in the ideas of this campaign."
True, but the question is whether those voters can still believe in him.
The message lives, but the messenger is wounded, perhaps fatally. And Obama has only himself to blame.
He practically called out the divorce lawyers Tuesday, but what took him so long? How could he sit and listen to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's wackiness for 20 years and fail to see him for what he so obviously is?
Or is it true, as many suspect, that Obama did see Wright in full, but rationalized his presence in the church and the financial support he gave it as the cost of building a base in Chicago's often-radical black politics?
Either way, the fundamental doubt is not that Obama shares Wright's anti-American views. The doubt is about his judgment in sticking with Wright as the pastor for himself and his young children.
It's a doubt sharpened by the fact that ever since Wright's loopy ideas first became public nearly two months ago, Obama has defended him as a basically good man.
Many of us who saw only the taped excerpts of Wright's sermons, where he damned America and accused the government of creating AIDS to kill blacks, instantly recognized that Wright is so far out of the mainstream that Obama would be penalized by voters.
Even if he were not the first black candidate with a real shot at the presidency, Obama, a young man unknown on the national stage, carried the burden of proving his values to the millions of older voters in America's heartland.
Yet Obama, while denouncing Wright's specific remarks, repeatedly claimed the taped excerpts were taken out of context. It's now clear what a big mistake that was, one that compounds the damage of recent days.
Seeing the Full Monty of Jeremiah Wright only makes it worse for Obama. The more you know about Wright, the more you doubt Obama.
Obama conceded as much by hastily calling his press conference to limit the damage, but his sudden conversion to Wright-basher failed to put the issue to rest. Until he does, Obama will find his former pastor to be the defining issue of his campaign.
His problems with white working-class voters who are the swing voters in swing states will grow as Wright becomes more of a household name. The issue still could cost him the nomination, or the general election.
And as I have written before, it is hard to trust Obama's leadership instincts if he truly admired Jeremiah Wright. Can Obama tell friend from foe? Or is he an appeaser who always looks for accommodation? Amazingly, even Wright suggested the answer to the latter is yes.
Part of Obama's continuing political problem is that he has not been honest about his relationship with Wright.
For example, he knew Wright was trouble, which is why he rescinded an invitation to have Wright speak at his campaign launch on Feb. 10, 2007. Now we learn, according to Wright, that he and Obama prayed secretly in the basement of Illinois' Old State Capitol before Obama went outside to speak to the public that day.
Wright, literally then, was the crazy uncle Obama kept in the basement. And now he has come charging out, spewing nonsense, for all the world to see. And for voters to wonder about the candidate who tried to hide him.
It's over. Barack Obama now wears the crown of inevitability. Unless he falls off a cliff, or the Rev. Jeremiah Wright pushes him, he is going to be the Democratic nominee.
His blowout victory in North Carolina catapulted him over the last and largest hurdle in his path. As the first African-American to win a major party nomination for the presidency, Obama is about to make history.
It will be his history, but not his alone. It's America's, too.
Hillary Clinton has next to no hope now. Her apparent win in Indiana, if it holds, allows her to continue if she insists, but she shouldn't kid herself - her campaign is on life support.
Her only prayer is that Obama collapses in a heap of scandal. Tuesday was her last real chance to pull an upset, but she underperformed in both states. When she wakes up this morning, the delegate count and the popular vote will be beyond her reach.
All she's left with is an argument that Obama's weak among white working-class voters. So true, and it has to concern party leaders. But Clinton is a flawed messenger for the argument because she's even weaker where it ultimately counts - overall results.
She exposes Obama's problems, but can't solve her own. That's not a case many superdelegates will find compelling.
Even if she had won both states, she would need nearly 80% of the uncommitted supers to back her. Now she needs a miracle. Ain't gonna happen.
What will happen is that the movement of supers toward Obama will grow stronger. If there's a stampede, which is possible, he has an outside chance of claiming a majority of delegates before next week's West Virginia primary.
That said, Dem leaders clamoring for a quick end to the party bloodbath can't be satisfied. Obama's repeated failures to close the deal caused doubts about his strength as a general election candidate. Nothing about last night erased those doubts.
His coalition of upper-income white liberals and first-time voters and a near-lock on the black vote traditionally has been a loser in the general election. Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore and John Kerry all lost with a version of that coalition.
Yet that's all Obama has. He remains unable to attract working-class white voters, the swing voters in swing states. Exit polls show him getting only about one in three of their votes, and that's against Clinton, not exactly a lunchbucket type herself.
Indeed, a striking image in recent weeks has been Clinton's aggressive courting of lower-income and Catholic voters. Never mind that she and hubby made $110 million in the past seven years. Suddenly, she's Rosie the Riveter working the Rust Belt.
It was a stretch, and it fell far short.
As her quest gets close to the end, Obama's challenge grows. He must keep the enthusiasm high so his coalition will stay intact while also attracting the more conservative white voters who have been immune to his charms. And that will be impossible if Wright keeps popping up like a skunk at the garden party.
Already Obama is in the danger zone. Exit polls showed an astonishing half of Clinton backers Tuesday saying they would not vote for him in the general election against John McCain. That leaves Obama no margin for error in a campaign that has a very long way to go.