Obama eyes more primary success
Voters take part in Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia primary polls.
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2008 20:28 GMT
Obama swept four weekend contests in the states of Maine, Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington [AFP]
Barack Obama, the US Democratic presidential candidate, is hoping to extend his winning run as US voters cast their ballots in Democratic and Republican polls in three states around the US capital.
Obama is favourite to defeat Hillary Clinton, his rival, in primary elections in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
John McCain, the Republican front-runner, and his last major challenger, Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, are also competing in the three states.
Voting took place in freezing temperatures but analysts expected turnout to be strong.
Polls close at 7pm (2400 GMT) in Virginia and at 8pm (0100 GMT) on Wednesday in Maryland and the District, with results expected soon afterwards.
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Obama easily swept four weekend contests in the states of Maine, Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington, edging past Clinton in the race for pledged delegates who select a party nominee.
But he played down his chances during a visit to a shop in Washington DC.
"I'm never expected to win," he said as he shook hands with voters and waited for his order.
"I don't win until I win. I was expected to win in New Hampshire. We lost. I remember that."

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Among Republicans, McCain has built a nearly insurmountable lead in delegates to the nominating convention and became the likely nominee last week with the withdrawal of his top rival, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.

But Huckabee captured two of three contests on Saturday as McCain, an Arizona senator, struggled to win over disgruntled conservatives unhappy with his views on immigration and taxation in particular.

Hunting support

All four candidates criss-crossed the area around the nation's capital on Monday, hunting for support in a hard-fought presidential race where momentum has been difficult to sustain.

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Obama, an Illinois senator, has 943 pledged delegates to Clinton's 895, according to a count by MSNBC - well short of the 2,025 needed to clinch the Democratic nomination.

However Clinton, a New York senator, said she remained confident about her campaign's future even as she looked past the three contests on Tuesday and next week's battles in Wisconsin and Hawaii - where opinion polls have favoured Obama - to focus on crucial March 4 contests in the big states of Texas and Ohio.

"I am absolutely looking to Ohio and Texas because we know that those are states where they represent the broad electorate in this country," Clinton said.

"They represent the kind of voters that will have to be convinced and won over in the general election."

'Best bet'

Huckabee captured two of three contests
on Saturday  [AFP]

Clinton also said she had the best chance of beating McCain.

Mark Penn, Clinton's strategist, said the former first lady would be better able to withstand Republican attacks in a general election, having faced them for years.

Clinton echoed the theme in an interview with a local Washington DC television station.

"I have been vetted, I have been through this. There isn't any new information," Clinton said. "I don't think you can say that about my opponent."

Obama, in a later interview with the same station, said he did not buy the argument.

"What we have shown is that we can take a punch," he said. "We have shown we can take a loss."

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