USA - VOTE 2008

Obama, McCain sweep Wisconsin

Democrat Barack Obama swept the Wisconsin Democratic primary dealing a new blow to rival Hillary Clinton. Republican John McCain sailed to an easy victory in Wisconsin and Washington, US media said.


MILWAUKEE, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama easily
beat rival Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin on Tuesday, extending
his U.S. presidential winning streak and putting pressure on
Clinton to win next month in Ohio and Texas to salvage her

The Obama win in Wisconsin pushed his hot streak to nine
straight victories in Democratic nominating contests. Democrats
in Hawaii, where Obama was born and is a heavy favorite, also
were voting on Tuesday.

As the results rolled in, both Democrats looked ahead to
March 4 showdowns in two of the biggest states, Texas and Ohio,
which have a rich lode of 334 convention delegates at stake and
where Clinton desperately needs to win.

"The change we seek is still months and miles away, and we
need the good people of Texas to help get us there," Obama said
at a rally in Houston after noting his win in Wisconsin.

Up for grabs in Wisconsin and Hawaii were a combined 94
delegates to the August convention that selects the Democratic
presidential nominee in November's election. Obama has a slight
lead in pledged delegates won in state presidential contests.

Republican front-runner John McCain also won in Wisconsin,
taking another big step toward becoming his party's nominee in
the presidential election.

McCain, an Arizona senator, beat his last remaining major
rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, to expand his huge
and essentially insurmountable lead in delegates.

"Thank you Wisconsin for bringing us to the point where
even a superstitious naval aviator can claim with confidence
and humility that I will be our party's nominee for president,"
McCain, a former Navy fighter pilot and Vietnam prisoner of
war, told supporters in Columbus, Ohio.

McCain took direct aim at Obama in his victory remarks,
previewing a possible general election match-up. "Will we risk
the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate?" McCain

"I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to
make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty
call for change that promises no more than a holiday from
history," he said.

Obama took his own shot at McCain, noting his support for
President George W. Bush's economic policies and his support
for a prolonged U.S. military presence in Iraq.

"He represents the policies of yesterday and we want to the
be the party of tomorrow," Obama said.


Obama's win in Wisconsin was particularly meaningful,
coming in a general election swing state with a large
population of blue-collar workers -- a big part of Clinton's
constituency and a similar demographic to Ohio.

Like Ohio, the primary also was an open contest allowing
participation by independents, and it was in a state where the
battered economy has been a huge issue. Exit polls showed Obama
won a majority of voters who said the economy was their top
issue, and a majority of voters with no college degree.

Democrats open their caucuses for presidential preference
voting in Hawaii at 7 p.m. HST (midnight EST/0500 GMT on

Clinton is the early favorite in both Texas and Ohio,
although one public opinion poll in Texas on Monday showed the
race in a statistical dead heat.

Clinton did not mention the Wisconsin results during a
rally in Youngstown, Ohio, after the race was called.

"We can't just have speeches. We've got to have solutions,"
Clinton said. "While words matter, the best words in the world
aren't enough unless you match them with action."

Heading into the voting, Obama had 1,116 pledged delegates
to Clinton's 986, according to a count by MSNBC. A total of
2,025 are needed to win the nomination.

McCain had 835 delegates to Huckabee's 243, with 1,191
delegates needed to win.

McCain also easily won a primary in Washington state, the
second half of the state's two-tiered nominating contest. The
state's Republicans held a caucus on Feb. 9, won narrowly by

With his Wisconsin win, Obama shrugged off a weekend
controversy over his uncredited use of speech lines from a
friend and ally, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Obama said
he should have credited Patrick but dismissed the controversy
as no big deal.

Clinton had argued the incident cast doubt on the
authenticity of Obama's rhetoric -- one of the Illinois
senator's biggest selling points.

"The real issue here is, if your entire candidacy is about
words, they should be your own words," Clinton, a New York
senator and former first lady, said in a satellite interview
with a Hawaii television station.

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