Clinton wins Ohio and Rhode Island, Obama takes Vermont (Lead:US presidential poll)

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Washington, Mar 5 : New York Senator Hillary Clinton today won the crucial states of Ohio and Rhode Island, ending frontrunner Barack Obama's 12 state winning streak and signalling that the Democratic presidential race is far from over.

The former First Lady said: "You know what they say. As Ohio goes, so goes the nation,"

Her wins raise the prospect of an extended contest for the Democratic nomination that could go all the way to the party convention in August.

Her tactics over the last week, pressing Obama hard on national security, the economy and his relations with Anton 'Tony' Rezko, who is on trial for alleged corruption, paid off.

Clinton had been close to being written off and faced calls from Obama's supporters to quit the race, but she staged a comeback today that was far more impressive than her surprise win in New Hampshire in January.

Barack Obama last night scored an easy win in the Vermont primary, and the two rivals are still locked in a tight race in a primary in Texas.

Texas, which the US networks said was too close to call, is expected to give a clearer picture on the preferred candidate ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, on August 25.

Both Clinton and Obama called John McCain, the Arizona Senator and Republican nominee, to congratulate him on his triumph.

Of the 370 Democratic delegates at stake, Ohio had 141 delegates up for grabs. Hillary now has 1438 delegates in her bag. A victory in Vermont earned Obama 17 more delegates, taking his tally to 1403. The magical figure for securing a Democratic nomination is 2,025.

"No matter what happens tonight, we have nearly the same delegate lead as we did this morning, and we are on our way to winning this nomination," said Obama.

Meanwhile, Democrats were trying hard to allay apprehensions of a bitter Obama, Clinton fight and its impact for the Republicans.

The Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, said a nomination ahead of the convention would help, but it was not for the party leaders but for the voters to decide who should drop out of the race.

ANI

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