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Democratic Candidates Each Pledge Party Unity After Split Decision in Tuesday Primaries

Senator Barack Obama won a convincing victory Tuesday in the North Carolina primary election for the Democratic Party U.S. presidential nomination. Senator Hillary Clinton won the midwestern state of Indiana by a narrow margin. VOA's Jim Fry reports from Washington both candidates pledged unity in looking toward the November U.S. presidential election.

Senator Barack Obama started the day in the lead, and he said his opponent did not get the "game changer" she would need to grab the momentum.

But Senator Hillary Clinton said she would continue going full speed toward the Democratic Party nomination for president.

The two states, are in different regions of the country, with differing voting populations.

Obama won North Carolina, in the southern United States, on the strength of overwhelming support from African American voters. He spoke in the capital, Raleigh. "I want to thank [the voters] for giving us a victory in a big state," Obama said.

Obama told jubilant supporters he needs fewer than 200 delegates to win the party's nomination in August.

Indiana, in the midwest, is home to a sizable group of white, working class voters. Clinton won a majority of them and spoke from Indianapolis. “Thanks to you," she told voters, "it's full speed on to the White House." Clinton pledged to fight on, and urged supporters to contribute cash to her campaign.

Indiana voters saw the two candidates in a hard fought campaign for the past several weeks that Clinton narrowly won. One Clinton voter, Pat Havens said, “It's her experience and she has positions I can agree with."

On primary day, Clinton visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In the campaign, she advocated suspending the federal gas tax to give consumers a break from record high prices. Obama started the day eating eggs with voters at an Indiana diner. He had emphasized the plight of working class voters.

But it was in North Carolina, where voters stood in line, that Obama won a convincing victory. One Obama voter, Diane Simmonds said, “He's a consensus builder and I feel a lot of the other candidates are kind of divisive."

Still Obama's relationship with his fiery former pastor, the Reverand Jeremiah Wright, was a factor. Nearly half the voters told pollsters the situation was very important to them.

After the voting, Obama turned his attention to the presumptive Republican nominee. He said Senator John McCain is too close to President George Bush on issues like the war in Iraq, the economy and energy policy. “We can't afford to give John McCain the chance to serve out George Bush's 'third term,'” Obama said. "We need change in America. And that's why we will be united in November."

Clinton also spoke of party unity. "No matter what happens, I will work for the nominee of the Democratic Party, because we must win in November," she said.

Democrats vote in five more states by June 3, but neither candidate is expected to capture enough delegates for the nomination by then. Party leaders say the uncommitted super delegates are likely to decide the race.