Mar 4, 2008 11:55 pm US/Central
McCain Sweeps 4 States, Wraps Up GOP Race
Campaign '08 Complete Coverage
March 4 Primaries Preview
WASHINGTON; CBS News projects Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will win the Ohio and Texas primaries, defeating Sen. Barack Obama in two big key states.
"We're going on, we're going strong and we're going all the way," Clinton said after her victory was announced.
The two Democratic contenders split the New England states also voting on Tuesday -- Obama won Vermont and Clinton won Rhode Island.
In Texas, with 71 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton leads Obama 51 percent to 48 percent. With 63 percent of precincts reporting in Ohio, Clinton leads 57 percent to 41 percent. With 88 percent in Rhode Island, Clinton leads 58 percent to 40 percent. And in Vermont, Obama leads 60 percent to 38 percent with 82 percent in.
Also tonight, CBS News projects Republican Sen. John McCain has clinched the Republican nomination for president.
McCain will win Republican primaries Tuesday in Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Rhode Island, CBS News projects. McCain's last Republican rival, Mike Huckabee, dropped out of the race after the results came in.
McCain leads Huckabee by large margins in all four states.
In Irving, Texas, the former Arkansas governor praised McCain and said: "My commitment to him and the party is to do everything possible to unite our party but more important to unite our country so that we can be the best we can be."
McCain will travel to the White House tomorrow where he will receive the endorsement of President Bush. The president and McCain will have lunch and then appear together in the Rose Garden.
CBS News reports that Obama and Clinton both called McCain tonight.
In all there were 370 Democratic delegates at stake in Rhode Island, Vermont, Ohio and Texas, which uses an unusual primary-caucus system.
According to CBS News exit polls, the economy was the top issue for Democratic voters in all four states voting today. Large majorities of Democrats in all four states think the economy is in bad shape.
The economy was of most concern to Ohio Democratic voters. In Vermont, however, the economy nearly tied with Iraq as the most important issue.
Ohio Democratic voters hold mostly negative views on U.S. trade with other countries, according to the early exit polls. Eight in ten say trade takes jobs away from their state. In Texas, however, a lower number -- 58 percent -- say trade takes jobs away. In fact, in Texas, a quarter say U.S. trade with other countries creates jobs.
According to the exit polls, 30 percent of Texas Democratic primary voters are Hispanic -- up from the 24 percent in 2004. In Ohio, 18 percent are African American, compared to 14 percent in 2004. Nineteen percent of Texas primary voters today are black, compared to 21 percent in 2004.
CBS News anchor Katie Couric spoke Tuesday with Clinton in Columbus, asking her about the near-impossibility she faces in catching up to Obama in elected delegates.
"We're just working hard today to get all the votes that we possibly can get," Clinton said. "And, remember, this is a long journey. My husband didn't get the nomination until June of 1992 and I have every confidence that we're going to continue to pick up delegates as we go."
"So you're counting on super delegates?" Couric asked. "Are you concerned they'll be under considerable pressure to reflect the views of voters nationwide?"
"Well, you know, I think that superdelegates have a purpose in the process, which is to exercise independent judgment: who they think would be the best president and who they believe would have the best chance of winning. If you look at the states that I've won, these are the states a Democrat has to win," Clinton said. "You know, with all due respect, a number of the states that Sen. Obama has won, which are part of the process and therefore certainly their delegates will count, but these are not likely to be states that a Democrat will win unless there is a tidal wave in our favor."
Some of her supporters, her husband, the former president among them, said she needed to outpoll Obama in both Texas and Ohio to sustain her candidacy.
Without conceding anything, Obama's allies said even that wouldn't be enough, given his lead in the delegate count and party rules that virtually assure primary losers a significant share of the spoils.
Couric asked Obama Tuesday if he would personally ask Clinton to get out of the race if it is, in fact, mathematically impossible for her to catch up in elected delegates.
"No. I mean, obviously this is going to be Sen. Clinton's decision to make," Obama told CBS News. "She is a tough competitor, she has been tenacious and is continuing to raise boat loads of money and I'm happy to continue to compete state by state until we get to the convention."
In appearances Tuesday, Clinton sounded like she might continue her campaign if she only won Ohio, and Obama sounded almost resigned to an extension of the nomination battle.
"You don't get to the White House as a Democrat without winning Ohio," Clinton said in Houston.
In San Antonio, Obama called Clinton "a tenacious and determined candidate" and predicted little shift in his delegate lead no matter who won Texas and Ohio, "which means that either way, we'll go on through Mississippi and Wyoming next week." Pennsylvania, the biggest single prize left, follows on April 22.
"All those states coming up are going to make a difference," he said. "What we want to do is make sure we're competing in every single state."
It takes 2,025 delegates to win the Democratic nomination, and slightly more than 600 remained to be picked in the 10 states that vote after Tuesday.
Obama outspent Clinton in television commercials, an advantage padded by unions working in his behalf.
Rhode Island and Vermont received little attention from either of the candidates, who devoted most of their time to Ohio and Texas. They debated once in each big state, and stressed issues that varied from one to the other.
In Ohio, a new powerful voting bloc may be asserting its dominance: blue-collar white males. Couric reports that men who work industrial jobs - on assembly lines and steel mills - make up 20 percent of the voting population.
One Cleveland blue-collar worker, John Myers, told CBS News: "I am not ready to back a lady president; I just can't go there."
NAFTA was a focus of the Ohio race.
Obama sent out mass mailings that said Clinton had supported the free trade agreement when it was passed during her husband's administration, and that he had opposed it. She angrily accused him of distorting her record.
But roles were reversed in the campaign's final hours after a memo surfaced in which a Canadian official described a meeting in which Obama's senior economic adviser said the Illinois senator's criticisms of the trade agreement were political positioning.
Clinton said Obama had given a "wink-wink" to Canada on the issue.
Obama said, "Nobody reached out to the Canadians to try to assure them of anything."
The Texas campaign revolved more around readiness to serve as commander in chief.
Clinton aired a television commercial that showed children asleep in their beds. "It's 3 a.m. and your children are safely asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?" the announcer said.
Obama wasn't mentioned, but responded quickly.
He told reporters that Clinton had already had her "red phone moment" -- and voted for the Iraq war.
He launched his own ad, with sleeping children and a telephone ringing ominously.
"In a dangerous world, it's judgment that matters," the announcer said.
Couric asked Obama if he's now having trouble countering attacks by Clinton on his national security experience - and how he would handle similar attacks by McCain come fall.
"I don't think we've had difficulty countering them. That's why we won 11 contests straight. Sen. Clinton's has been making this argument since the beginning of this campaign and the American people, I think, have recognized that what we need in national security is judgment, a judgment that Senator Clinton and John McCain both failed to show."
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