Illinois: Obama, McCain win

February 5, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Buoyed by voters embracing his message of change, Barack Obama routed Hillary Clinton in the Illinois primary, a home-state win of one of the richest Super Tuesday prizes. John McCain defeated Mitt Romney on the Republican side. The Associated Press made the calls based on surveys of voters leaving the polls.

Obama, the state's junior U.S. senator, bested rival New York Sen. Hillary Clinton regardless of the voter's race, gender or age, according to exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks.

John Topliffe, a 60-year-old retired Air Force pilot from the St. Louis area, voted twice for President Bush. But he backed Obama in the primary.

"Fairly early, I noticed that he kind of stood above the rest, above the fray and all the baloney," Topliffe said. "I put him with John Kennedy. I think he's got the same intelligence, the same charisma. I think he'd be a good president."

At Beulah Shoesmith Elementary School on Chicago's South Side, Obama and his wife, Michelle, were greeted by cheers as they arrived to cast ballots. Obama shook hands with the crowd and shouted, "Are you fired up? Are you ready to go?"

McCain, an Arizona senator, may have benefited from crossover voting in his win over Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. Steve Greenberg of Grayslake, a registered Democrat, couldn't decide between the top two candidates on that slate and thought his vote would be more valuable on the Republican side.

"I like both Hillary and Obama," said Greenberg, 39. "I went with McCain because if the Democrats lost, I'd be more comfortable with him."

With 153 delegates, Illinois trails only California and New York in Super Tuesday states.

Illinois traditionally holds its primary in mid-March, when results in early states have often settled the nominees. This year, state lawmakers moved the primary up to give a boost to Obama, the freshman Illinois senator who began his campaign almost exactly a year ago. Clinton, the New York senator who grew up in suburban Park Ridge, focused her efforts on other states.


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