After the smoke cleared, there were still three presidential candidates left standing -- two who rose from the dead and one who came out of nowhere.
But Tuesday's round of primaries that were supposed to settle the race settled it only for John McCain, who locked up the Republican nomination and then went to the White House for a laying-on of hands and an official blessing from President Bush. Given Bush's popularity ratings, one has to wonder how many more of these joint appearances we'll be seeing.
The likelihood of a brokered or negotiated compromise between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama in which the two would run on the same ticket was until Tuesday's Texas and Ohio primaries somewhere between slim and none. But the "morning after" her Texas and Ohio wins, Clinton went on the morning news shows and responded positively to interviewers' suggestion of such a possibility.
Congratulations, Hillary Rodham Clinton. You did what your husband said you had to do and won Ohio and Texas.
"Tonight we won three out of four contests and began a new chapter in this historical campaign," the victorious Clinton told reporters on her campaign plane.
Barack Obama regained lost ground in the fierce competition for Democratic convention delegates on Wednesday based on results from the Texas caucuses, partially negating the impact of Hillary Rodham Clinton's string of comeback primary victories.
Late returns showed Clinton emerged from Rhode Island, Vermont, Texas and Ohio with a gain of 12 delegates on her rival for the night, with another dozen yet to be awarded in The Associated Press' count.
Hillary Rodham Clinton scored three victories in a night of revival that denied Barack Obama a ripe opportunity to drive her from the Democratic presidential race. Clarity came only to the Republican side, where John McCain made the nomination his own.
Clinton won the big races in Ohio and Texas, as well as Rhode Island, to break her costly losing streak, and asserted, "This nation's coming back and so is this campaign." But Obama came away with a large share of delegates, too, in counting that continued Wednesday, meaning he's got a lead that's tough to overcome.
The major television networks have declared Hillary Rodham Clinton the winner of the hotly-contested Texas Democratic primary but Barack Obama appeared headed to a win in the delegate rich caucus.
Even with a loss in the popular vote, Obama could leave Texas with the most delegates and hold on to his lead in overall delegate count.
Major networks made the call in Texas at 12:50 a.m. With 75 percent of the vote counted, Clinton had a 51-48 percent margin over Obama. The win gives Clinton wins in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island while Obama won Vermont.
Barack Obama suffered a setback Tuesday in his efforts to drive rival Hillary Rodham Clinton out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but claimed the delegate math still is on his side.
"We know this: No matter what happens tonight we have nearly the same delegate lead as we did this morning and we are on our way to winning this nomination," Obama told supporters after Clinton broke the Illinois senator's winning streak.
Hillary Rodham Clinton finally had a confetti night. The Democratic presidential hopeful claimed victory in the Ohio primary Tuesday night and said that means, "We're going strong and we're going all the way."
Confetti rained down on her Ohio rally as she took the stage. She told the crowd her performance was a victory for everyone who's been "counted out but refused to be knocked out."
Highlights of preliminary results from exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks in Tuesday's presidential primaries in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont:
John McCain clinched the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday and Democrat Hillary Clinton won a crucial showdown with rival Barack Obama in Ohio to breathe new life into her campaign and prolong the Democratic race.
McCain's four big victories in Vermont, Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island drove his last major rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, out of the race and gave McCain more than the 1,191 delegates needed to win the nomination.
President George W. Bush will greet the Arizona senator at the White House on Wednesday and back his campaign.
"I am very pleased to note that tonight, my friends, we have won enough delegates to claim with confidence, humility and a sense of great responsibility that I will be the Republican nominee for president of the United States," McCain, 71, told supporters in Dallas.