In the U.S. presidential race, Democrat Barack Obama won a convincing victory Tuesday in the North Carolina primary. Rival Hillary Clinton claimed victory in a close race in Indiana. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone reports from Washington.
Senator Obama regained his political footing with his win in North Carolina and a strong showing in Indiana, and took a major step toward securing the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
Obama increased his lead in the delegate count and told jubilant supporters in North Carolina that his win was a victory against the politics of division and destruction.
"Because you still believe that this is our moment and our time to change America, tonight we stand less than 200 delegates away from securing the Democratic nomination for president of the United States," he said.
In his remarks, Senator Obama also turned his attention away from Senator Clinton and focused on the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain.
"Yes, there have been bruised feelings on both sides. Yes, each side desperately wants their candidate to win. But ultimately, this race is not about Hillary Clinton, it is not about Barack Obama, it is not about John McCain. This election is about you, the American people. It is about whether we will have a president and a party that will lead us toward a brighter future. We cannot afford to give John McCain a chance to serve out George Bush's third term, we need change in America, and that is why we will be united in November," he said.
But Senator Clinton showed no signs of giving up when she spoke to her supporters in Indiana.
"Not too long ago, my opponent made a prediction. He said I would probably win Pennsylvania. He would win North Carolina and Indiana would be the tiebreaker. Well, tonight, we have come from behind. We have broken the tie, and thanks to you, it is full speed onto the White House," she said.
Clinton pledged to support Obama if he becomes the Democratic nominee. But she also vowed to continue her campaign in upcoming primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky, where she is favored.
"No matter what happens, I will work for the nominee of the Democratic Party because we must win in November. I am going to work my heart out in West Virginia and Kentucky this month, and I intend to win them in November in the general election," she said.
Voter surveys showed Obama won the support of about 90 percent of African Americans, while Clinton won about two-thirds of white working class voters. Half the voters in both states said the recent controversy involving Obama's former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, was a factor in their decision.
Obama's strong showing in North Carolina and Indiana could also win over more support from uncommitted so-called superdelegates. Superdelegates are Democratic officeholders and party activists who will likely provide the margin of victory for the candidate who eventually secures the nomination.
Six Democratic contests remain before the primary season ends on June 3. Political experts give Senator Clinton little chance of overtaking Obama in either the delegate count or the popular vote count by the end of the primary season.