Clinton, Romney take Nevada


Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (left) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 4:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 4:35 p.m.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Nevada caucuses Saturday, powering past Sen. Barack Obama in a hard-fought race marred by late charges of dirty politics. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney coasted to an easy win in the Republican contest.

The victory marked a second-straight campaign triumph for the former first lady, who scored a New Hampshire primary upset last week and is locked in an historic, increasingly tense struggle with Obama.

Clinton was gaining roughly half the vote in a three-way Democratic race, with Obama at about 45 percent and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards placing a distant third.

Romney said Republicans had cast their votes for change and that he was the man to provide it.

"With a career spent turning around businesses, creating jobs and imposing fiscal discipline, I am ready to get my hands on Washington and turn it inside out," he said in a statement issued while he flew to Florida, site of the Jan. 29 primary.

The Republican caucuses drew relatively little candidate interest. Not so the party's South Carolina primary, the second half of a campaign doubleheader, and a duel between Sen. John McCain and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Romney was gaining more than half the vote in Nevada, leaving McCain and Texas Rep. Ron Paul in a close race for a distant second place.

Obama had pinned his hopes on an ourpouring of support from the Culinary Workers Union, which endorsed him last week. But it appeared that turnout was lighter than expected at nine caucuses established along the Las Vegas Strip for the union membership.

The Nevada Democratic contest was intense, despite the absence of negative television commercials.

The Clinton campaign said their supporters in the union had been the targets of threats designed to keep them from attending caucuses.

Obama's camp said their backers were receiving telephone calls that made repeated reference to "Barack Hussein Obama." And the Illinois senator told reporters that former President Clinton "seems to be making a habit of mischaracterizing what I say."

Interviews with Democratic caucus-goers indicated that Clinton fashioned her victory by winning about half the votes cast by whites, and two-thirds support from Hispanics, many members of the union that endorsed Obama. He won about 80 percent of the black vote.

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