obama STILL IN pole position

NEW YORK - Senator Barack Obama won Mississippi's Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, building his delegate lead over Senator Hillary Clinton in the final contest before the nominating fight heads to Pennsylvania for a six-week showdown.

NEW YORK - Senator Barack Obama won Mississippi's Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, building his delegate lead over Senator Hillary Clinton in the final contest before the nominating fight heads to Pennsylvania for a six-week showdown.

Obama's victory was built on a wave of support among blacks, who made up half of those who turned out to vote, according to exit polls conducted by television networks and The Associated Press. The polls found that roughly 90percent of black voters supported Obama, but only a third of white voters did.

With 91percent of precincts reporting across Mississippi, Obama was leading Clinton 60percent to 38percent.

"It's just another win in our column, and we are getting more delegates," Obama, of Illinois, said in declaring victory in an interview on CNN from Chicago, where he arrived on Tuesday evening after spending the day in Mississippi and Pennsylvania. "I am grateful to the people of Mississippi for the wonderful support.

"What we've tried to do is steadily make sure that in each state we are making the case about the need for change in this country."

Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, won the primary for his party, taking him closer to the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination, according to a count by the New York Times.

After a frenzied string of primaries and caucuses for more than two months, Mississippi was alone in holding its contest on Tuesday, where 33 delegates were at stake. It was the last primary before a six-week interlude.

The Pennsylvania primary on April 22 opens the final stage of the Democratic nominating fight, with eight states, Puerto Rico and Guam left to weigh in.

Mississippi offered Obama an opportunity to regain his footing after losing the popular vote to Clinton last week in three contests - Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island.

Obama had been expected to win resoundingly in Mississippi, a state where 36percent of the population is black, the highest percentage in the nation.

While Clinton, of New York, campaigned in Mississippi last week and former president Bill Clinton dropped in over the weekend, her campaign has mostly been looking ahead to Pennsylvania, with its 158 delegates at stake. - New York Times

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