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Conservatives propel Huckabee to a comfortable win in Kansas.
WASHINGTON - Sen. Barack Obama won caucuses in Nebraska and Washington state and captured the Louisiana primary Saturday, slicing into Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's slender delegate lead in their historic race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Obama also won caucuses in the Virgin Islands with nearly 90 percent of the vote.
He was winning roughly two-thirds of the vote in Washington state and Nebraska, and he was getting about 55 percent of the vote in Louisiana, denying the former first lady a victory on Saturday.
As the Democratic race moved into a new, post-Super Tuesday phase, Sen. John McCain of Arizona flunked his first ballot test since becoming the Republican nominee-in-waiting. He lost Kansas caucuses to Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, got nearly 60 percent of the caucus vote a few hours after telling conservatives in Washington, "I majored in miracles, and I still believe in them." He won all 36 delegates at stake.
McCain led Washington's caucuses, with returns counted from more than three-quarters of the precincts. In Louisiana, the two men were in a close race, although the presence of former candidate Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul on the ballot meant no candidate would gain the 50 percent required to pocket 20 delegates. Instead, they will be awarded at a state convention next weekend.
For all his brave talk, Huckabee was hopelessly behind in the delegate race. McCain had 719, compared with 234 for Huckabee and 14 for Paul. It takes 1,191 to win the nomination at the national convention.
Obama, relishing the clean sweep on Saturday, appealed to Democrats at a gathering in Richmond, Va., to help him turn the page away from the "same old Washington games with the same old Washington players," an indictment meant for rival Clinton and McCain.
Clinton addressed the crowd of 4,000 in Richmond before Obama arrived. The gala was a can't-miss stop in a short, intense campaign for a trio of contests Tuesday: Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Obama mentioned his wins only briefly, saying his victories from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast and in the heartland were a rousing "yes we can" from voters fed up with divisive politics and failed policies. And like Clinton before him on the stage, he painted McCain as more of the same from the party of President Bush.
"He has made the decision to embrace the failed policies of George Bush's Washington," the Illinois senator said of McCain. "He speaks of a hundred-year war in Iraq and sees another on the horizon with Iran."
Clinton made no reference to her losses or the Louisiana primary that was still unsettled when she spoke. Instead, the New York senator focused her criticism on McCain. "We have tried it President Bush's way," she said, "and now the Republicans have chosen more of the same."
She left the dinner immediately after her remarks, ensuring no overlap with Obama, who was still on his way.
The crowd greeted her enthusiastically but was largely supportive of her rival. Chants of "Obama" rang through the hall as she made her way offstage.
The Clinton campaign said 100,000 donors had given $10-million since Super Tuesday, the money-sapping mega-contest that left Obama and Clinton close to a tie in delegates won. After Tuesday, Clinton acknowledged lending her campaign $5-million of her own money - a disclosure that seemed to help open the money taps from supporters to try to counter Obama's record-setting fundraising.
In all, the Democrats scrapped for 161 delegates in Saturday's contests.
Clinton began the day with a slender delegate lead in the Associated Press count. She had 1,055 delegates to 998 for Obama. A total of 2,025 are required to win the nomination at the national convention.
Saturday's contests opened a new phase in the Democratic race between Clinton, who is attempting to become the first woman in the White House, and Obama, who is hoping to become the first black.
The Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses for Democrats in 22 states, which once looked likely to effectively settle the race, instead produced a near-equal delegate split.
With Saturday's events, 29 of the 50 states have selected delegates.
Two more - Michigan and Florida - held renegade primaries and the Democratic National Committee has vowed not to seat any delegates chosen at either of them.
The following contests remain for the Democrats.
Today: Maine, with 24 delegates, holds caucuses.
Tuesday: Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia and voting by Americans overseas, with 175 delegates combined.
March 4: Primaries in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont, totaling 370 delegates.
March 11: Mississippi primary, with 33 delegates at stake.
June 7: Puerto Rico caucus, with 55 delegates.
[Last modified February 10, 2008, 01:07:40]