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Clinton and Obama in Close Race

Clinton, the former first lady who finished third in Iowa, was mounting an unexpectedly stiff challenge to Obama in the nation's first primary. Polling place interviews showed that the female vote - which deserted the former first lady when she finished third in last week's Iowa caucuses - was solidly in her New Hampshire column.

The former first lady also was winning handily among registered Democrats. Obama led her by an even larger margin among independents.

With votes counted from 51 percent of the state's precincts Clinton had 39 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary to 37 percent for Obama, who is seeking to become the nation's first black president. Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina trailed with 17 percent.

Despite running a distant third to his better-funded rivals, Edwards had no plans to step aside. He pointed toward the South Carolina primary on Jan. 26, hoping to prevail in the state where he was born - and where he claimed his only victory in the presidential primaries four years ago.

Clinton's performance, based on the early returns, surprised even her own inner circle.

In the hours leading up to the poll closing, her closest advisers had appeared to be bracing for a second defeat at the hands of Obama.Copyright 2008, Associated Press. All rights reserved.

This program aired on January 8, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

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