WASHINGTON (AP) - Barack Obama won the Wisconsin primary Tuesday
night, his ninth straight triumph over a fading Hillary Rodham
Clinton in their epic struggle for the Democratic presidential
Obama cut deeply into Clinton's political bedrock, splitting the
support of white women almost evenly with the former first lady and
running well among working class voters in a blue collar
battleground, according to polling place interviews.
The economy and trade were key issues in the race, and seven in
10 voters said international trade has resulted in lost jobs in
Wisconsin. Fewer than one in five said trade has created more jobs
than it has lost.
McCain won the Republican primary, with ease, dispatching former
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and edging closer to the 1,191
delegates he needs to clinch the nomination at the party convention
in St. Paul, Minn. next summer.
The Associated Press made its calls based on surveys of voters
as they left the polls.
In a scarcely veiled attack on Obama, the Republican
nominee-in-waiting said, "I will fight every moment of every day
in this campaign to make sure that Americans are not deceived by an
eloquent but empty call for change."
Independents cast about one-quarter of the ballots in the race
between Obama and Clinton, and roughly 15 percent of the electorate
were first-time voters, the survey said. Obama has run strongly
among independents in earlier primaries, and among younger voters,
and cited their support as evidence that he would make a stronger
general election candidate in the fall.
Wisconsin offered 74 national convention delegates. There were
20 delegates at stake in caucuses in Hawaii, where Obama spent part
of his youth.
Obama began the night with 1,281 delegates in the AP count, and
Clinton with 1,218. It takes 2,025 to win the nomination at the
party's national convention in Denver.
Obama began the evening with eight straight primary and caucus
victories, a remarkable run that has propelled him past Clinton in
the overall delegate race and enabled him to chip away at her
advantage among elected officials within the party who will have
convention votes as superdelegates.
The Democrats' focus on trade was certain to intensify, with
primaries in Ohio in two weeks and in Pennsylvania on April 22.
Obama's campaign has already distributed mass mailings critical
of Clinton on the issue in Ohio. "Bad trade deals like NAFTA hit
Ohio harder than most states. Only Barack Obama consistently
opposed NAFTA," it said.
Obama was in Texas, which has primaries and caucuses on March 4,
and Clinton was in Ohio as the votes were counted in Wisconsin.
"Both Senator Obama and I would make history," the former
first lady said in remarks prepared for delivery at a rally in
Youngstown." But only one of us is ready on day one to be
commander in chief, ready to manage our economy, and ready to
defeat the Republicans.
"Only one of us has spent 35 years being a doer, a fighter and
a champion for those who need a voice."
Clinton's aides initially signaled she would virtually concede
Wisconsin, and the former first lady spent less time in the state
Even so, she ran a television ad that accused her rival of
ducking a debate in the state and added that she had the only
health care plan that would cover all Americans and the only
economic plan to stop home foreclosures. "Maybe he'd prefer to
give speeches than have to answer questions" the commercial said.
Obama countered with an ad of his own, saying his health care
plan would cover more people.
The campaign grew increasingly testy over the weekend, when
Clinton's aides accused Obama of plagiarism for delivering a speech
that included words that had first been uttered by Deval Patrick,
the Massachusetts governor and a friend of Obama.
"I really don't think this is too big of a deal," Obama said,
eager to lay the issue to rest quickly. He said Clinton had used
his slogans, too.
Even before the votes were tallied in one state, the campaigners
were looking ahead.
Texas and Ohio hold primaries on March 4, and some of Clinton's
backers have said the one-time front-runner cannot afford to lose
either. Already, she and Obama have begun advertising in Texas,
with 193 delegates, and Ohio, with 141, and both visited the two
states in the days before Wisconsin primary.
The Pennsylvania primary, with 158 delegates, is April 22, the
last big state to vote.
In the Republican race, McCain's Wisconsin victory came with at
least 13 of the 24 delegates at stake. That left him with 921, and
Huckabee with 245.
Unlike the Democratic race, McCain was assured of the Republican
nomination and concentrated on turning his primary campaign into a
general election candidacy.
Huckabee parried occasional suggestions - none of them by McCain
- that he quit the race. In a move that was unorthodox if not
unprecedented for a presidential contender, he left the country in
recent days to make a paid speech in the Grand Cayman Islands.
McCain picked up endorsements from former President George H.W.
Bush and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a campaign dropout
who urged his 280 delegates to swing behind the party's
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)