Obama Takes Command in Ohio
John Whitesides, Political Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama scored a crucial breakthrough win in Ohio to take a commanding lead in the White House race on Tuesday, leaving Republican John McCain fighting for his political life in a string of close battleground states.
Obama was projected by television networks to win Ohio, the state that narrowly gave Republican President George W. Bush the presidency in 2004.
The huge victory, along with a win in Pennsylvania, which was targeted by McCain as his best hope of stealing a Democratic-leaning state, moved Obama to the brink of a historic White House win at the end of a campaign dominated by the U.S. economic crisis.
Obama also was projected by Fox News to capture New Mexico's five electoral votes, another state won by Bush in 2004.
The combined 25 electoral votes in states won by Bush would be enough to put Obama over the 270 Electoral College votes if there are no major upsets by McCain.
"At this point we need a miracle," a McCain aide was quoted as saying on the CBS News web site.
A win by Obama, 47, son of a black father from Kenya and white mother from Kansas, would make him the first black U.S. president and mark a milestone in U.S. history 45 years after the height of the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King.
A huge crowd of Obama supporters gathered in Chicago for an election night rally and cheered results that showed him doing well.
Obama and McCain were battling fairly evenly in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana as polls closed in more than half of the United States.
A miracle victory for McCain, a 72-year-old former Vietnam War prisoner, would make him the oldest president to begin a first term in the White House and make his running mate Sarah Palin the first female U.S. vice president.
Long lines greeted voters in many key states but no major breakdowns or irregularities were reported as at least 130 million Americans are expected to cast votes on a successor to the unpopular Bush.
The winner will face a crush of challenges over the next four years, including the economic crisis, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and an overhaul of the U.S. health care system.
(Editing by Kieran Murray)
6 months ago