Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) soundly beat their opponents in pivotal Potomac Primary Tuesday, respectively.
Democrats and Republicans hold presidential nomination contests in the so-called "Potomac primaries" Tuesday-- named for the river that separates Virginia and Maryland and flows past the nation's capital.
Big night for Obama
It is a big night for Obama, who has scored 8 straight victories against opponent Hillary Clinton (D-NY) so far since last weekend.
"We have now won east and west, north and south, and across the heartland of this country we love," he told an exciting audience in Madison, Wisconsin.
"Today, the change we seek swept through the Chesapeake and over the Potomac. We won the state of Maryland. We won the Commonwealth of Virginia. And though we won in Washington D.C., this movement won't stop until there's change in Washington," Obama said.
"We are bringing together Democrats and Independents and Republicans; blacks and whites; Latinos and Asians; small states and big states; Red States and Blue States into a United States of America," he added. "This is the new American majority."
Obama won the three contests by a large margin.
He beat Clinton 76 percent to 24 percent in Washington DC; 68 percent to 30 percent in Maryland; 63 percent to 36 percent in Virginia.
Before delegates from Tuesday were apportioned, Clinton had 1,148 delegates and Obama 1,148, according to the CNN tally.
That slender lead was poised to change hands with Obama's claim to a majority of the 168 delegates at stake in the three primaries.
Obama now leads the delegate count 1,208 to 1,185 against Clinton.
But neither candidate is close to the 2,025 delegates needed to be nominated at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer.
And none of them is likely to reach that number very soon.
No surrender for Huckabee
On the Republican side, McCain beat his only challenger, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in a tight race in Virginia and won the two other contests easily.
In Virginia, he narrowly defeated Huckabee with 50 percent to 41 percent; 67 percent to 17 percent in Washington DC; 56 percent to 33 percent in Maryland.
After Tuesday's sweeping victory, he sounded more like a presidential nominee for his party.
"I will make my case to all the people," McCain said at a rally in Alexandria, Virginia.
"I will fight every moment of every day for what I believe is right for this country, and my friends, I am fired up and ready to go, " he said.
McCain is now leading Huckabee 812 to 217 in total delegates, according to CNN estimates.
A GOP candidate needs 1,191 delegates to secure the nomination.
Although catching up with McCain seems a mission impossible, Huckabee still vowed to stay in the race.
"The nomination is not secured until somebody has 1,191 delegates," Huckabee said.
"That has not yet happened. We're still continuing to work and to give voters in these states a choice."
As the Potomac Primary was over, candidates from both parties are looking forward to next rounds of competitions.
On Feb. 19, both parties will have primaries in Wisconsin and the Democrats will also compete in Hawaii.
The big prize will come on March 4, when delegate-rich Texas and Ohio hold primary elections.
McCain hopes he can close the deal by that time but the Democratic race will surely drag on for a long time.
(Xinhua News Agency February 13, 2008)