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McCain wins South Carolina primary

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080120/ap_on_el_pr/campaign_rdp;_ylt=AlNejBB_eu18swFf09zk2Aqs0NUE McCain wins South Carolina primary By DAVID ESPO, AP Special
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 19, 2008

      McCain wins South Carolina primary

      By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent 19 minutes ago

      Sen. John McCain won a hard-fought South Carolina
      primary Saturday night, avenging a bitter personal
      defeat in a bastion of conservatism and gaining ground
      in an unpredictable race for the Republican
      presidential nomination. Democrats Hillary Rodham
      Clinton and Barack Obama split the spoils in Nevada
      caucuses marred by late charges of dirty politics.

      "We've got a long way to go," McCain told The
      Associated Press in an interview. He quickly predicted
      that his victory in the first southern primary would
      help him next week when Florida votes, and again on
      Feb. 5 when more than two dozen states hold primaries
      and caucuses.

      "This is one step on a long journey," Clinton told
      cheering supporters in Las Vegas. She captured the
      popular vote, but Obama edged her out for national
      convention delegates at stake, taking 13 to her 12.

      Obama issued a statement that said he had conducted an
      "honest, uplifting campaign ... that appealed to
      people's hopes instead of their fears."

      If the Democrats had co-front-runners, the Republicans
      had none, and looked to the first southern state
      primary to begin winnowing an unwieldy field.

      McCain defeated former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in
      a close race in the state that snuffed out his
      presidential hopes eight years ago. The Arizonan was
      gaining 33 percent of the vote to just under 30
      percent for his closest rival.

      "It just took us a while. That's all. Eight years is
      not a long time," McCain told the AP.

      Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson was in a struggle
      for third place with about 16 percent, after saying he
      needed a strong showing to sustain his candidacy.
      Another Republican, California Rep. Duncan Hunter,
      dropped out even before the votes were tallied.

      Interviews with South Carolina voters leaving their
      polling places indicated that McCain, an Arizona
      senator, and Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor,
      were dividing the Republican vote evenly. As was his
      custom, McCain was winning the votes of self-described

      South Carolina was the second half of a campaign
      double-header for Republicans.

      Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney cruised to
      victory earlier in the day in the little-contested
      Nevada caucuses.

      No matter the state, the economy was the top issue in
      all three races on the ballot.

      Republicans in Nevada and South Carolina cited
      immigration as their second most-important concern.

      Among Democrats in Nevada, health care was the second
      most-important issue followed by the Iraq war, which
      has dominated the race for months.

      With three contests on the ballot, it was the busiest
      day of the presidential campaign to date, and
      fittingly enough for a pair of wide-open races, every
      contest produced a different winner.

      Romney rolled to victory in Nevada Republican
      caucuses, winning roughly 50 percent of the vote in a
      multi-candidate field.

      With a black man and a woman as the leading
      contenders, the Democratic race was history in the
      making — and increasingly testy, as well.

      Before the votes were tallied, Obama was critical of
      former President Clinton, telling reporters, "It's
      hard to say what his intentions are. But I will say
      that he seems to be making a habit of
      mischaracterizing what I say."

      Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, issued a
      written statement accused the Clinton campaign of "an
      entire week's worth of false, divisive attacks
      designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the
      caucus itself."

      Clinton declined to comment on the allegation.

      Whatever the hard feelings, she told supporters they
      would fade by the fall general election campaign. "We
      will all be united in November," she said, as the
      crowd chanted "HRC, HRC."

      Her campaign issued a statement citing numerous
      reports of voter intimidation. It also accused UNITE
      HERE, a union supporting Obama, of running a radio
      commercial that was "one of the most scurrilous smears
      in recent memory." The ad, broadcast in Spanish, said
      Clinton "does not respect our people" and called her

      Interviews with Democratic caucus-goers indicated that
      Clinton fashioned her victory by winning about half
      the votes cast by whites, and two-thirds support from
      Hispanics, many members of a Culinary Workers Union
      that had endorsed Obama. He won about 80 percent of
      the black vote.

      Obama had pinned his Nevada hopes on an outpouring of
      support from the 60,000-member union. But it appeared
      that turnout was lighter than expected at nine
      caucuses established along the Las Vegas Strip, and
      some attending held signs reading, "I support my
      union. I support Hillary."

      Democrats looked next to South Carolina to choose
      between Obama, the most viable black candidate in
      history, and Clinton, seeking to become the first
      woman to occupy the White House. The state is home to
      thousands of black voters, who are expected to
      comprise as much as half the Democratic electorate.

      After that, the race goes national, with more than 20
      states holding primaries and caucuses on Feb. 5 and
      1,678 national Democratic convention delegates at

      The split Democratic verdict in Nevada resulted from
      the proportional manner in which delegates were
      awarded. Obama emerged with one more than Clinton
      because he ran strongly in rural areas.

      Overall, Clinton leads the delegates race with 236,
      including separately chosen party and elected
      officials known as superdelegates. Obama has a total
      of 136, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards
      has 50.

      Romney struck first on the day among the Republicans.

      The former Massachusetts governor learned of his
      Nevada victory when his wife Ann announced it on the
      public address system of his chartered jet. "Keep 'em
      coming. Keep 'em coming," he said.

      Romney had campaigned for months to win early contests
      in Iowa and New Hampshire, and his candidacy was in
      trouble when he lost both. He retooled his appeal to
      the voters in the days leading to the Michigan
      primary, though, focusing on the economy and
      trumpeting his experience as a businessman.

      En route to Florida, he presented reporters with his
      ambitious economic stimulus plan, $233 billion in all.
      It includes tax rebates as well as tax cuts for
      individuals, as well as tax cuts for businesses.

      Nevada Republicans said the economy and illegal
      immigration were their top concerns, according to a
      survey of voters entering the caucuses. Romney led
      among voters who cited both issues.

      Mormons gave Romney about half his votes. He is hoping
      to become the first member of his faith to win the
      White House. Alone among the Republican contenders,
      Rep. Ron Paul of Texas aired television ads in Nevada.

      Nearly complete returns showed Romney winning more
      than 50 percent of the vote, with Paul and McCain far
      behind vying for second. Thompson and Huckabee

      Romney also won at least 17 of the 31 Republican
      National Convention delegates at stake. McCain and
      Paul won at least four apiece, while Thompson and
      Huckabee each won two. Hunter and Rudy Giuliani each
      won one delegate — the first of the campaign for the
      former New York mayor.

      Nevada offered more delegates — 31 versus 24 — but far
      less appeal to the Republican candidates than South
      Carolina, a primary that has gone to the party's
      eventual nominee every four years since 1980.

      That made it a magnet for Thompson, who staked his
      candidacy on a strong showing, as well as for Romney,
      McCain and Huckabee.

      McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, appealed to
      a large population of military veterans in South
      Carolina, and stressed his determination to rein in
      federal spending as he worked to avenge a bitter
      defeat in the 2000 primary.

      Huckabee reached out to evangelical Christian voters,
      hoping to rebound from a string of disappointing
      showings since his victory in the Jan. 3 Iowa

      Romney campaigned on a pledge to help restore the
      state's economy, much as he did in winning Michigan.

      In South Carolina, the economy and immigration were
      cited as top issues, with more than half the voters
      saying illegal immigrants should be deported.
      Conservatives and white evangelical voters turned out
      in heavy numbers, according to the polling place

      Survey data in both states were from polls conducted
      for The Associated Press and the television networks
      by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.

      South Carolina primary voters coped with equipment
      difficulty and bad weather. Election officials in the
      area around Myrtle Beach brought out paper ballots
      after some electronic voting machines failed to work
      properly. Snow fell in the northern part of the state,
      which has little snow removal equipment.
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