(CBS/AP) Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Ohio and Texas primaries on Tuesday night, defeating Sen. Barack Obama in two big, key states.
Along with a win in Rhode Island, Clinton's three triumphs ended a month of defeats for the former first lady, and she told jubilant supporters in Columbus, Ohio, "We're going on, we're going strong and we're going all the way."
Obama won the Vermont primary, and sought to counter Clinton's claims that the night had been a campaign-altering event. "We have nearly the same delegate lead as we did this morning and we are on our way to winning this nomination," he told supporters in San Antonio, Texas.
Here are the Ohio Primary results.
"Coming into the night, Clinton faced the prospect of increased pressure from within the party to rethink her commitment to the campaign if she failed to win both Ohio and Texas," said CBSNews.com senior political editor Vaughn Ververs. "After winning three of four primary contests, who's going to call on her to drop out now?"
"This race appears likely to go at least to the Pennsylvania primary, almost seven weeks from now," said Ververs. "That is a long time and plenty can happen between now and then to change the dynamics of the race even further."
In Texas, with 97 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton led Obama 51 percent to 48 percent. With 92 percent of precincts reporting in Ohio, Clinton led 55 percent to 43 percent. With 98 percent in Rhode Island, Clinton led 58 percent to 40 percent. And in Vermont, Obama led 60 percent to 38 percent with 86 percent in.
Texas Democrats also held caucuses on Tuesday night, which will allocate 35 percent of the state's delegates, but final results were not expected until later Wednesday. An early count by CBS News showed Obama with a slight lead; 52 percent to 48 percent with just 36 percent of the votes in. It was too early and the margin too close for CBS to project a winner in the caucuses.
According to the latest CBS News estimate, Obama still leads in the overall delegate count, 1,512 to 1,423. See the latest state-by-state tally.
It takes 2,025 delegates to win the Democratic nomination, and slightly more than 600 remained to be picked in the 10 states yet to vote.
Also on Tuesday night, CBS News projected Republican Sen. John McCain had clinched the Republican nomination for president, securing more than the 1,191 delegates needed. McCain had 1,205 delegates while Huckabee had 231. Click here for the latest state-by-state tally.
"It's a very humbling thing, and I say that with all sincerity," McCain said of finally securing the nomination.
McCain won Republican primaries Tuesday in Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Rhode Island by large margins.
The Arizona senator's last Republican rival, Mike Huckabee, dropped out of the race after the results came in.
In Irving, Texas, the former Arkansas governor praised McCain, saying: "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." (Watch Huckabee video.)
McCain will travel to the White House Wednesday 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 Tuesday night.
"The big battle's to come," McCain said of the general election. "I do not underestimate the significance nor the size of the challenge." (Watch McCain video.)
According to CBS News exit polls, the economy was the top issue for Democratic voters in all four states that voted Tuesday. Large majorities of Democrats in all four states thought the economy was in bad shape as they headed to the polls.
Ohio Democratic voters held mostly negative views on U.S. trade with other countries, according to the early exit polls. Eight in ten said trade takes jobs away from their state. In Texas, however, a lower number - 58 percent - said trade takes jobs away. In fact, in Texas, a quarter said U.S. trade with other countries creates jobs.
According to the exit polls, 30 percent of Texas Democratic primary voters were Hispanic - up from 24 percent in 2004. In Ohio, 18 percent were African American, compared to 14 percent in 2004. Nineteen percent of Texas primary voters Tuesday were black, compared to 21 percent in 2004.
"Senator Hillary Clinton pulled out victories in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island tonight, showing the same strengths she has throughout the electoral season among the Democratic Party's base voters," said CBS News political consultant Monika L. McDermott. "She stopped an 11-state winning streak by her opponent Senator Barack Obama by trumping his inspirational advantage with her message of policy."
CBS News anchor Katie Couric spoke Tuesday with both Clinton and Obama before the primary results came in.
Couric asked Clinton about the near-impossibility she faced 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 super delegates 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."
Couric asked Obama Tuesday if he would personally ask Clinton to get out of the race if and when 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."
Couric also 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 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."
On Tuesday, in Houston, Clinton stressed the importance of success in Ohio.
"You don't get to the White House as a Democrat without winning Ohio," she said.
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."
Obama outspent Clinton on 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 powerful new voting bloc may be asserting its dominance: blue-collar white males. Couric reported that men who work industrial jobs - on assembly lines and in 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 countered that, "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 to the ad 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.
Posted by LS