New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Arizona Senator John McCain have won the Democratic and Republican primaries in the northeastern state of New Hampshire -- the first state in the nation where voters go to the polls to select nominees for president. The victories marked dramatic comeback wins for both candidates, as we hear in this report from VOA Correspondent Meredith Buel in Bedford, New Hampshire.
Senator Clinton won the New Hampshire primary in a stunning upset, defeating Illinois Senator Barack Obama and resurrecting her bid for the White House.
Last week, Clinton came in third in the Iowa caucuses, and most recent polls projected that she was far behind Obama in New Hampshire.
However, as the votes were tallied here, Clinton won the primary by a narrow margin, marking a remarkable comeback.
In her victory speech, the former first lady, who is campaigning to become the first female president, said she listened to the people of New Hampshire and, in the process, found her own voice. "I felt like we all spoke from our hearts and I am so gratified that you responded. Now, together let us give America the kind of comeback New Hampshire has just given me," she said.
Obama congratulated Clinton on what he described as a hard fought victory.
In his concession speech, the Illinois senator told his supporters to prepare for a lengthy campaign. "We know the battle ahead will be long. But always remember that, no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change," he said.
Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards came in a distant third behind Clinton and Obama.
In the Republican race, Arizona Senator John McCain won a decisive victory over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
The victory marked an extraordinary comeback for McCain. The 71-year-old senator's campaign nearly collapsed, last year, when he almost ran out of money and was forced to layoff much of his staff.
The continuing upheaval in the Republican field of candidates appears to have helped boost his once declining candidacy.
Independent voters in New Hampshire, who can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary, appear to have helped McCain revive his campaign.
McCain, who was a fighter pilot and prisoner of war in Vietnam, told his cheering supporters that Americans can meet any challenge. "In a time of war and the terrible sacrifices it entails, the promise of a better future is not always clear. But I promise you my friends, we face no enemy, no matter how cruel, and no challenge, no matter how daunting, greater than the courage, patriotism and determination of Americans. We are the makers of history, not its victims," he said.
McCain's win was a bitter blow to Romney, who spent millions of dollars of his own money in hopes of winning the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, yet finished second in both.
During his concession speech, Romney congratulated McCain, but tried to draw a contrast between their two candidacies. "I don't think it is going to get done by Washington insiders. That sending insiders back to Washington just to change different chairs, that is not going to get the job done. I think you have to have somebody from outside Washington who has proven he can get the job done in one setting after another," he said.
The winner of the Iowa Republican caucuses, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, came in third in Tuesday's election.
Exit polls show the most important issues for voters in both parties here are the economy and the war in Iraq.
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, where one candidate from each party will be named to run in the November elections.