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Obama Ahead of Clinton Before New Hampshire Primary


Large crowds of supporters are cheering Barack Obama as polls show the Illinois senator is poised to win a significant victory in Tuesday's New Hampshire Democratic primary. It would be Obama's second come-from-behind triumph in a week over New York Senator Hillary Clinton, who displayed rare emotion as she campaigned on the eve of the election. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel has details on the Democratic candidates running in the primary in this report from Bedford, New Hampshire.

Overflow crowds of supporters welcomed Barack Obama at campaign stops throughout New Hampshire with public opinion surveys predicting he will win a decisive victory in Tuesday's primary.

Several recent polls show Obama leading Hillary Clinton by a double-digit margin less than a week after the one-time front runner came in a disappointing third in the Iowa caucuses.

At a rally in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Obama urged his supporters not to be overconfident.

"I know we had a nice boost over the last couple of days, but elections are funny things," said Obama. "You actually have to wait until people have voted and counted the votes before you know what is happening."

About 45 percent of New Hampshire's voters are independent and can participate in either the Republican or Democratic primaries.

Obama appealed directly to the independents on the eve of the election.

"We have you now in our sights," he said. "We are coming after you and coming after you hard."

Obama told the crowd gathered at a local high school that he would improve the country's health care, change Iraq war policy and improve the nation's education system.

But it is Obama's message of hope that resonates with New Hampshire voters like Jared Matos.

"I like the speech about hope," said Matos. "When he was talking about hope and his family and how he did not really get raised by money, he got raised by hope and love."

Polls show Obama, who is campaigning to be the first black man elected as America's president, is succeeding in identifying himself as the Democratic candidate most likely to bring significant change to policies in Washington.

African-American voter Herb Fajors says race is not the reason people are supporting Obama.

"No, they are going to vote for him because they believe in him," said Fajors. "I did not vote for Jesse Jackson because I really did not believe in him. But I believe in Obama because he is speaking to everybody. He is just not speaking to blacks, he is speaking to everybody."

Senator Clinton, who was the frontrunner for months here in New Hampshire, grew uncharacteristically emotional as she described her reasons for seeking the presidency at a New Hampshire coffee shop.

"I have so many opportunities from this country," said Hillary Clinton. "I just don't want to see us fall backwards. This is very personal for me. It is not just political, it is not just public. I see what is happening and we have to reverse it. Some people think elections are a game. They think it is like who is up or who is down. It is about our country. It is about our kids' futures and it is really about all of us together."

Clinton vowed to carry on with her campaign whatever the results of the primary here.

Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards is currently trailing Obama and Clinton.

Acknowledging he is the underdog, Edwards is trying to convince voters he will fight for them.

"We can not have a president or a nominee that represents the status quo," said Edwards. "On the change front, we need a change candidate who is willing to fight for the middle class, fight for jobs and takes that fight personally.

After the New Hampshire primary, other states hold primaries and caucuses in the coming weeks. The state-by-state presidential nominating process culminates with the Democratic and Republican parties' national conventions in August and September, which set the stage for the general election in November.