Democratic Party frontrunner Senator Barack Obama scored a decisive win in North Carolina's primary election Tuesday, while his rival Senator Hillary Clinton eked out a slim, two-percentage point victory in Indiana. VOA Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Washington Mrs. Clinton is vowing to fight on in upcoming primaries.
Senator Barack Obama's strong, 14 percentage point win in North Carolina marks a dramatic victory after he experienced the most difficult weeks of his campaign, including a loss in Pennsylvania last month and an unhelpful media tour by his controversial former pastor.
At his victory party in Raleigh, North Carolina, Obama thanked his supporters for ignoring what he termed "distractions" and voting for a major change in the tone of politics in Washington.
"You know, there are those who are saying that North Carolina would be a game changer in this election," he said. "But today what North Carolina decided is that the only game that needs changing is the one in Washington, D.C."
The 46-year-old African American Senator from Illinois is now just about 200 delegates away from clinching the Democratic Party's nomination. His strong showing in North Carolina, and the very close outcome in Indiana give him a wider lead in pledged delegates and in the popular vote.
This boosts the case he can make to the uncommitted superdelegates, party officials and elected office holders who are free to vote as they please at the party's nominating convention in August. Obama campaign officials say they expect more superdelegates to declare their support for him this week.
As Senator Clinton spoke to supporters late Tuesday in Indianapolis, the race was still too close to call. But she expressed determination to fight on until the end.
"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 tie breaker," said Clinton. "Well tonight we have come from behind, we have broken the tie and thanks to you it is full speed on to the White House."
The former First Lady also appealed to her supporters for cash, which could become an issue with six remaining primaries to go, ending on June 3.
She is showing no public signs of ending her campaign though, adding an appearance in West Virginia, where the next primary will be held next week. Senator Obama is taking the day off to be with his family.
After his victory Tuesday, Obama seemed to turn his focus to uniting the party behind him to face Republican rival Senator John McCain in the November general election.
"We cannot afford to give John McCain the chance to serve out George Bush's third term," said Obama. "We need change in America and that is why we will be united in November."
Senator Clinton also had some conciliatory lines in her victory speech, pledging that she will work for the Democratic nominee because her party must win in November.