Obama overtakes Clinton, McCain closes in

By Ronald Baygents, KUNA

Washington : Barack Obama overtook Hillary Clinton as the front runner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination by easily winning primaries in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia on Tuesday, while John McCain bolstered his hold on the Republican presidential nomination with victories in the same places.

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“Tonight we are on our way,” Illinois Senator Obama told supporters in Madison, Wisconsin, which will hold the next primary on Saturday. “But we know how much further we have to go on.” Obama had 1,306 delegates to 1,270 for New York Senator Clinton, according to an MSNBC estimate late on Tuesday night. The Democratic nominee needs 2,025 delegates.
Obama, 46, who aims to become the first African-American president of the United States, has won eight straight victories over Clinton, 60, the former first lady who is now struggling to maintain her candidacy.

Obama swept the “Potomac Primary” among Democrats by defeating Clinton 64 percent to 35 percent in Virginia, 75 percent to 24 percent in the District of Columbia, and by a projected 60 percent to 37 percent in Maryland.

McCain, 71, swept the same primaries among Republicans by defeating former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee 50 percent to 41 percent in Virginia, 68 percent to 17 percent in the District of Columbia, and by a projected 56 percent to 28 percent in Maryland.

Libertarian Republican Congressman Ron Paul took 5 percent of the Republican vote in Virginia, a projected 6 percent in Maryland, and 8 percent in the District of Columbia.

Huckabee, 52, who remains popular among conservative evangelicals in the Republican Party, vowed to continue his campaign until McCain has won the 1, 191 delegates required for the Republican nominee.

Results were delayed from Maryland after sleet and icy conditions on the roads led a judge to extend voting by an additional hour and a half, giving more people time to vote in another cluster of elections marked by high voter turnout, especially among Democrats.

Obama has won 21 states and the District of Columbia compared to 10 states for Clinton.

In a major concern for Clinton, Obama carried rural and Latino voters, and more women, older voters, and blue-collar workers than ever in his victories on Tuesday.

If this trend continues into the critical Texas and Ohio primaries on March 4, where Clinton is staking her campaign, analysts believe Obama will be well on his way to capturing the Democratic presidential nomination.

In another sign of the turmoil in the Clinton campaign, it was reported late on Tuesday that Clinton deputy campaign manger Mike Henry had resigned.