Democrat Hillary Clinton defied the polls and narrowly upset Barack Obama in New Hampshire on Tuesday, breathing new life into her U.S. presidential campaign after finishing third in Iowa.
Clinton triumphed despite a flood of polls showing her with a double-digit deficit against Obama. The win gives her a big dose of momentum in a seesawing campaign.
Republican John McCain, meanwhile, capped his rise from the political scrap heap with a win over Mitt Romney that gave new hope to his once-struggling presidential campaign.
The victory put McCain, an Arizona senator, in the middle of a wild scramble for the party's nomination for the November election after being written off this summer when he was low on cash and shedding campaign staff.
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"Tonight, we sure showed 'em what a comeback looks like," McCain told a crowd of supporters in Nashua who repeatedly chanted "Mac is back!"
New Hampshire's primary is the second high-profile battleground, following Iowa, in the state-by-state process of choosing Republican and Democratic candidates for November's election to succeed President George W. Bush.
In the Democratic race, Clinton led Obama through much of the night. Television networks projected her as the winner.
Obama, bidding to be the first black president, had hoped for a New Hampshire win that would solidify his hold on the top spot in the race to be the Democratic candidate and deal a second consecutive humiliating loss to Clinton, the former front-runner.
Still Fired Up
Obama congratulated Clinton on her victory, but added, "I am still fired up and ready to go."
Clinton, who became emotional on Monday when talking about her quest for the presidency, was back in the thick of the race with the win. A loss would have saddled her with new questions about the viability of her campaign.
Exit polls said Clinton won big among women and older voters, while the young voters who propelled Obama to victory in Iowa did not turn out in big numbers in New Hampshire.
Ann Lewis, a senior adviser to Clinton, said she would be adding staff at all levels as the race moves forward to more states.
Obama won Iowa last week, with Clinton finishing third behind second-place finisher John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator. Edwards finished third in New Hampshire.
In the Republican race, McCain overcame long odds to repeat his New Hampshire win in 2000, when he ultimately lost the nomination to Bush.
McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, angered the conservative base of his party with his support earlier this year for a now-dead Senate bill that would have given illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.
But after overhauling his campaign staff and recalibrating his strategy, he largely bypassed Iowa and began to focus on New Hampshire, talking to residents in repeated town hall meetings.
"When the pundits declared us finished I told them I'm going to New Hampshire, where the voters don't let you make the decision for them," McCain said.
He finished second to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in Iowa's kick-off contest last week. Huckabee, the Baptist minister whose Iowa rise was fueled by his support from religious conservatives, was running third in New Hampshire.
Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, and Romney were both under intense pressure to revive their campaigns after disappointing showings in Iowa.
There were predictions of a record turnout during the most wide open U.S. presidential race in more than 50 years, with no sitting president or vice president seeking the nominations.
Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, promised to push on despite pouring tens of millions of dollars of his personal wealth into the presidential race and not managing a breakthrough win.
The presidential race now begins to branch out quickly to more states, with Michigan voting next Tuesday, Nevada and South Carolina Republicans on Jan. 19 and South Carolina Democrats on Jan. 26.
McCain, Romney and Huckabee are all looking for wins in Michigan. McCain won the state in 2000, Romney grew up there as the son of a former governor and auto executive, and Huckabee will look to make inroads with the state's evangelicals.
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