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Arizona Sen. John McCain is well on his way to securing the Republican nomination, having won the March 4 primary contests in both Vermont and Ohio, according to NPR projections.
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has won the Vermont Democratic primary, giving him a 12-contest winning streak over rival Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.
Ohio-- with its 85 Republican delegates and 141 Democratic ones-- is considered a key state for both the primary, as well as a swing state for the general election.
Vermont, Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island all held contests on Tuesday.
After months of non-stop campaigning and trading barbs, the fate of the Democratic nomination could fall to voters there — and, most pivotally, in Ohio and Texas, which offer the day's biggest delegate prizes.
Polls have shown that the Democratic race between Clinton and Obama remains tight in Texas, which has 193 delegates at stake, and Ohio, which has 141.
Clinton needs a win to halt Obama's momentum, although she has vowed she will carry on after March 4 regardless of the outcome. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has previously said that she would need to win both Texas and Ohio to continue in the race.
Obama is starting to feel the pressure as the perceived front-runner, as voters scrutinize his record, including his relationship with Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a Chicago real estate developer and prominent political fundraiser who now faces federal corruption charges in Chicago.
For the Republicans, McCain hopes to finalize his campaign by securing the roughly 170 delegates he still needs to win his party's nomination. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee campaigned throughout Texas on Monday, despite the fact that he trails McCain by a wide margin in the delegate count, 252 to McCain's 912.
Early exit polls conducted by the Associated Press show that Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island voters were overwhelmingly concerned with the economy. The Democratic candidates focused on the issue as they slipped mentions of home foreclosures into stump speeches and fought over who had supported NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which blue-collar workers blame for the loss of manufacturing jobs.
For Democrat Noreen Jones in Cleveland, the economy played a major role in her decision to support Clinton, whom she saw as a more experienced candidate.
"The jobs, the war and taxes — that's it. As a country, we got troubles. There comes a time when something has to be done," Jones said.
But not all Cleveland voters felt that way. Voter Daryl Manning works for the city and has two children in the city's public schools. He voted for Obama because he said he wants change.
"The idea of him just stepping up and looking for something different was a good thing," Manning said. "There have always been Bushes and Clintons."
Vermont voters told exit pollsters that the Iraq war was their No. 1 issue.
In total, 370 Democratic pledged delegates and 253 Republican delegates are at stake in Tuesday's contests.
In the days leading up to March 4, the candidates crisscrossed the delegate-rich state of Texas. Clinton renewed her argument that she is the more experienced candidate and, therefore, better prepared for the Oval Office. She ran an ad in the Lone Star State that features a red phone ringing in the middle of the night with news of a national disaster. The ad asked viewers which Democratic presidential candidate they would prefer to have on the other end of the line.
Obama countered the experience argument by reminding voters that Clinton voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq — a vote that he calls an error in judgment on her part.
The Republican candidates also campaigned in Texas, although in a less contentious battle. McCain appeared on Monday in Lubbock and Waco, following a two-day break from the campaign trail.
His chief rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, told supporters on Monday, "It ain't over until Texas says it's over." He held events in Dallas, Midland, San Antonio and Houston.
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas remains in the race, but first thing's first: He has to dispatch a Republican challenger for his House seat in Tuesday's primary.
This program aired on March 4, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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