February 20, 2008 / 2:11 AM / in 10 years

CORRECTED - WRAPUP 12-Obama, McCain score big wins in Wisconsin

(Corrects month to February in 12th paragraph)

(Adds Hawaii result, details)

By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

MILWAUKEE, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama crushed Hillary Clinton in two more presidential contests on Tuesday, extending his winning streak and putting pressure on Clinton to win in Ohio and Texas next month to salvage her campaign.

The victories in Wisconsin and Hawaii pushed Obama’s hot streak to 10 straight wins and expanded his lead in pledged delegates who will select the Democratic presidential nominee in November’s election.

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. A struggling Clinton desperately needs wins in both to turn around her campaign.

“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 his win in Wisconsin.

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 asked.

“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,” the Illinois senator said.


Obama has broadened his voting coalition and taken control of the race with his string of victories in February. He now has won 25 nominating contests to Clinton’s 11.

Obama captured about 58 percent of the vote in Wisconsin, 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 allowed participation by independents -- and Obama won their votes. Exit polls also showed Obama won a majority of voters who said the economy was their top issue, and won among white voters, men, and in all income and education levels.

But Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, 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,” said Clinton, who later called Obama to apologize. “While words matter, the best words in the world aren’t enough unless you match them with action.”

Obama has 1,156 pledged delegates to Clinton’s 1,014, according to a count by MSNBC. A total of 2,025 are needed to win the nomination. Wisconsin and Hawaii had a combined 94 delegates at stake, and Obama won at least 40 in Wisconsin to Clinton’s 28, MSNBC said.

McCain, who won about 55 percent of the vote in Wisconsin, had 880 delegates to Huckabee’s 243, with 1,191 delegates needed to win. Wisconsin had 37 delegates at stake.

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 McCain.

With his wins, 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.

Additional reporting by Caren Bohan, Jeff Mason and Jason Szep; Editing by Eric Beech To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at blogs.reuters.com/trail08/

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