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Clinton and McCain victorious in New Hampshire

NASHUA, N.H. - Republican Sen. John McCain and Democrat Hillary Clinton - archetypal Washington insiders - both gave life to their presidential bids when they won their parties; primaries in New Hampshire Jan. 8.

Billed by pundits as ''the comeback kids,'' both Clinton and McCain reversed what seemed like almost fatal defeats in the Iowa caucuses barely a week earlier.

Clinton, the New York senator who was predicted by pollsters to flame out in New Hampshire after a crushing defeat by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in Iowa, defied the polls and won 39 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, topping Obama's 36 percent. The narrow victory sets up a tough nomination battle that now heads to Nevada and South Carolina.

Clinton, whose husband used a defeat in New Hampshire in 1992 to launch himself into the White House, trailed Obama in the polls by double digits after losing in Iowa. She came in third in that state, with 29 percent of the votes behind former Sen. John Edwards, who won 30 percent there.

But in the last days before the New Hampshire primary, Clinton revamped her campaign both in style and content. She moved away from her image as policy wonk and, instead of her usual stump speech, spent hours answering questions and also let down her guard to reveal a more human side of a personality that many perceived as stiff and unfeeling.

During a debate, Clinton displayed vulnerability by admitting that her feelings were hurt when voters said that Obama was more likable than her, and anger by flaring out in defense of her record of implementing ''change'' - the buzzword that became de rigueur following Obama's Iowa victory. And a day before the primary, Clinton choked up in public while speaking about the importance of the election.

''Over the last week, I listened to you and in the process I found my own voice. I felt like we all spoke from our hearts, and I am so gratified that you responded. Now, together, let's give America the kind of comeback that New Hampshire has just given me,'' Clinton said in her victory speech, referring obliquely to her emotional displays.

Whether those displays were spontaneous or scripted became a focus of debate in the media, but most people agreed they worked.

''I'd rather have a president who tears up once in a while to what we have now - a president who gets on the telephone and talks to God,'' a caller to a public radio program said the day after New Hampshire.

In another reversal of the Iowa results, Clinton won 47 percent of the women's votes in New Hampshire compared with Obama's 34 percent, according to a Gallup poll. In Iowa, Obama won 35 percent of women against Clinton's 30 percent.

Obama had hoped to augment his Iowa victory with a win in New Hampshire that would solidify his top spot in the race.

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Instead, while the last third of the votes were still uncounted, he conceded and congratulated Clinton ''on a hard-fought victory here in New Hampshire,'' telling his supporters he was ''still fired up and ready to go.''

Although Obama has a permanent place on his Web site for American Indians, he conspicuously omitted mentioning the country's indigenous peoples in his concession speech.

There is something happening in America, Obama said, ''when people vote not just for the party they belong to but the hopes they hold in common - that whether we are rich or poor, black or white, Latino or Asian; whether we hail from Iowa or New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina, we are ready to take this country in a fundamentally new direction. That is what's happening in America right now. Change is what's happening in America.''

Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, fell behind Clinton and Obama to third place with 17 percent, a huge decline from his second-place win in Iowa. But he vowed to carry his campaign forward to the Democratic National Convention Aug. 25 - 28, when the party's presidential candidate will be selected.

On the Republican side, McCain took the lead soon after the polls closed at 8 p.m. and never relinquished it, ending the day with 37 percent of the vote against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 32 percent.

It was a remarkable win for McCain, whose campaign was pronounced dead last August 2007 when he ran out of funds and several staffers left, and who got 13 percent of the vote in a tie for third place with actor Fred Thompson in Iowa a week earlier.

''My friends, I'm past the age when I can claim the name 'kid,' no matter what adjective precedes it,'' McCain told his cheering supporters during his victory speech, ''but tonight, we sure showed 'em what a comeback kid looks like. When the pundits declared us finished, I told 'em, 'I'm going to New Hampshire, where the voters don't let you make their decision for them.'''

For Romney, who has spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money on his campaign and had hoped to knock out his opponents with early wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, McCain's win in the Granite State was a resounding defeat. But Romney promised to continue his campaign, claiming that his second place showings to two different candidates means he is the only candidate with a broad appeal across the country.

Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and an ordained Southern Baptist minister, who won the Republican Iowa caucus, trailed behind in New Hampshire with 11 percent. Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul almost tied at 9 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

A number of other caucuses take place in January, leading up to Super Tuesday on Feb. 5 with primaries in 22 states.