Politics

McCain widens delegate lead

Sen. John McCain padded his commanding delegate lead in the Republican presidential race Wednesday and urged conservative critics to cut him some slack. In a Democratic surprise, Hillary Rodham Clinton disclosed she’d lent $5 million to her cash-short campaign.

“And I think the results last night proved the wisdom of my investment,” said the former first lady, one day after trading victories with Barack Obama in a Super Tuesday string of contests from coast to coast.

The competition for Republican delegates was a runaway.

Conservatives set for nervous breakdown?

I’m reminded of the story about the young nun who asked the Mother Superior if it was all right to smoke a cigarette while praying. The Mother Superior erupted in anger at the very idea. Meekly, the nun posed a second question: “Is it all right to pray while smoking a cigarette?” That, the Mother Superior responded, is not just all right, it is commendable.

Is Obama’s ‘phenom’ phase over?

Some observations coming out of Super Tuesday:

The “phenom” phase of Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign may be ending. The shine may be starting to deflect off the star. Yes, it’s still a tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination between the junior senator from Illinois and the junior senator from New York. But up to this point Obama has had the distinct advantage (and disadvantage) of being less well-known. That era will soon be behind him.

McCain, Clinton hold delegate leads

Sen. John McCain jumped to a commanding lead in the Republican delegate race over Mitt Romney on Super Tuesday. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton edged ahead of Sen. Barack Obama in the race for Democratic delegates.

McCain won 420 delegates to 130 for Romney and 99 for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in incomplete results. A total of 1,023 delegates were up for grabs in 21 states.

Overall, McCain led with 522 delegates, to 223 for Romney and 142 for Huckabee. It takes 1,191 to win the nomination at this summer’s convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Can anyone stop McCain?

John McCain’s string of cross-country victories made him all but unstoppable — and proved his appeal across a broad swath of the Republican Party.

The Arizona senator was racking up enough convention delegates in Super Tuesday’s coast-to-coast voting to put him within reach of the coveted GOP presidential nomination that eluded him eight years ago. Mitt Romney faced a decision of whether to stretch out the bruising race for another few weeks while Mike Huckabee competed for — and in some ways found — relevancy.

Democrats in race to the finish

Hillary Rodham Clinton captured needed states Tuesday night — including the brass ring of California — even as Barack Obama ate into her traditional base of support on a topsy-turvy night where ballot victories were not the only measure of success.

The grand spectacle of Super Tuesday’s coast-to-coast nominating contests marked a turning point in the Democratic presidential contest from euphoric election night victories to painstaking delegate counting. Consider it the beginning of a long hard slog.

McCain takes command of GOP race; Romney on the ropes; Clinton, Obama divide up Super Tuesday

John McCain earned himself a super Wednesday, a day to savor coast-to-coast primary victories that ratified him as the Republican front-runner, while Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama dug in after a night of divided spoils in a Democratic presidential contest that could stretch to the spring.

McCain, whose campaign once verged on collapse, piled up more delegates than his two rivals combined, pushing over the halfway mark on what’s needed to clinch the nomination. His victories stretched from New York to California, the biggest prize. Still, Mitt Romney in the West and Mike Huckabee in the South proved to be go-to candidates for conservatives, and they vowed to press forward.

Clarity of any sort eluded the Democrats as campaigns turned to the next rounds — contests in Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington state Saturday and primaries in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia on Tuesday.

Obama wins Georgia, Illinois; McCain takes Illinois, New Jersey, Conn.; Clinton tops in Okla., Tenn., Ark.

Sen. Barack Obama captured the Illinois and Georgia Democratic primaries Tuesday night while Hillary Clinton appeared headed for victory in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee.

On the Republican side, John McCain won Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut but failed to beat Mitt Romney in Massachusetts after a big push there. Mike Huckabee won the West Virginia caucus and Arkansas.

In Georgia, exit polls showed black voters made up 52 percent and Obama captured 86 percent. But Obama also won 43 percent of the white vote, a sharp increase over the South Carolina results, a trend that could mean problems for Sen. Hillary Clinton in other states.

Among non African-American voters, Obama easily beat Clinton, garnering well over 50 percent.

Obama wins Georgia, Illinois

Sen. Barack Obama captured the Illinois and Georgia Democratic primaries Tuesday night while Hillary Clinton appeared headed for victory in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee.

On the Republican side, John McCain won Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut but failed to beat Mitt Romney in Massachusetts after a big push there. Mike Huckabee won the West Virginia caucus and Arkansas.

In Georgia, exit polls showed black voters made up 52 percent and Obama captured 86 percent. But Obama also won 43 percent of the white vote, a sharp increase over the South Carolina results, a trend that could mean problems for Sen. Hillary Clinton in other states.

Among non African-American voters, Obama easily beat Clinton, garnering well over 50 percent.

Can McCain seal the deal?

John McCain hoped to seal the deal. Mitt Romney wanted to stay alive. Either outcome was possible.

Super Tuesday’s coast-to-coast voting promised either to cap a turbulent yearlong campaign for the Republican presidential nomination by giving McCain enough convention delegates to make him unstoppable or to stretch the race out for weeks by putting Romney within reach of his chief rival’s total.