McCain Gets Big Prize, Hillary Takes Three — Obama Faces ‘Nightmare’ Re-vote in Michigan and Florida

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By: Greg Mitchell

With polls closed everywhere at 9 p.m. — except for a few troubled places in Ohio (naturally) — John McCain was declared the winner of the Republican nomination, having won everywhere and the new delegates putting him over the top. He will received President Bush’s nod at the White House tomorrow.

On the Democratic side, Barack Obama took Vermont but the other three races — in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island — remained “too close to call” at that hour. Exit polls seemed to suggest that Hillary Clinton was doing well, but not well enough? Hours later we would find out — she did very well, indeed.

More developments added below, latest at top, blog style.
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9:30 AM: Even in the afterglow of a truly super Tuesday, the chief Clinton backers today have not outlined a plausible scenario for how she actually overcomes the Obama lead and gets enough delegates to win, except….they (Terry McAuliffe and Gov. Ed Rendell) are now introducing the possibility of a re-vote in Michigan and Florida. If Hillary wins big there, then she has a shot, but the Clinton managers have resisted the idea, claiming, until now, that they already won in those states — even though they were “illegal” primaries from the party’s view.

Now Obama is on the spot. He can plausibly claim that Clinton had agreed to party rules, now wants to break them, so tough luck. But the party can shift course itself and say it’s okay if the two states want to spend the money to vote again. Then Obama looks like he has dissed the voters in those states, who would then take it out on him — running up the exact big margin she needs to win. Could happen. He may have to agree to a vote and a fair fight — which would make this a whole new ballgame, with The New Math suddenly not so one-sided in his favor.

8:00 AM: Clinton’s victory in Texas looks like 51-47 and in Ohio 54-44. Christopher Hitchens on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” makes references to vampires and Obama’s failure to “put a stake” through the Clinton candidacy — while she makes the rounds of six top morning TV shows. Welcome to the funhouse for the next seven weeks. But the Pittsburgh and Philly newspapers will surely have a ball.

12:45 AM: Just when it looks like it could go on all night, Hillary is handed Texas vote, though trailing in caucus tally and may get fewer delegates overall. No question that a long battle now faces everyone — and gigantic fight over Florida and Michigan.

Obama’s top guy xelrod says they feel great, Hillary did not gain delegates and now another 300 off the table. Hold on to your hats, folks, tornados coming.

12:05 AM: AP says Clinton finally has a “confetti night.” Obama has now won 28 contests, Hillary 13, but she has the larger states, on balance.

Brian Williams on MSNBC makes a couple of points: a) the Clinton negative ads hurt Obama and he unwisely tried to refute her “telephone” with a similar-looking one– people thought they were watching the anti-Obama ad b) SNL skit and aftermath was a factor indeed. Tina Fey new political kingmaker?

11:35 PM: Clinton in her victory speech clearly says she will fight on, even with a Texas loss, thus dashing the hopes of Obama backers, and some neutral party bosses, who hoped to avoid a bloody seven weeks in Pennsylvania….

11:00 PM: NBC calls Ohio for Clinton, and she may win by a healthy margin. Texas still a wash, but the pundits are already claiming that Ohio win is enough for her to go on — even though her husband at one point said she had to win both…

Long night of counting ahead in “Don’t Mess With” Texas.

9:45 PM: One disturbing nugget out of Ohio and MSNBC’s exit polls (courtesy Matt Yglesias at atlantic.com). They actually asked if race played a role in their vote. Fully 1 in 5 said yes — and Clinton carried this crowd 57% to 43%.

9:25 PM: Mike Huckabee throws in the towel, so it is official.

NBC calls Rhode Island for Clinton — so the 12-game winning streak for Obama is history. But the two big states hang in the balance, along with Clinton’s candidacy.

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