Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former Arkansas Gov. Tom Huckabee declared victory in their respective Democratic and Republican caucuses in Iowa late Thursday night, as candidates on both sides proclaimed that the outcome signaled a desire for change in the White House.
With 99 percent of votes counted, Obama had a lead of 38 percent versus 30 percent for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and 29 percent for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.
“They said this day would never come,” Obama said in his televised victory speech, frequently interrupted by chanting and applause. “They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose.
“But on this Jan. 9th at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do. You have done what the state of New Hampshire can do in five days.You have done what America can do in this new year, 2008.”
On the Republican side, Huckabee had 34 percent of the vote to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s 25 percent, both outdistancing all other contenders, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who garnered just 3 percent.
“Tonight, what we have seen is a new day in American politics,” Huckabee said.
“It wasn’t about who raised the most money,” he added. “People are really more important than the purse, and what a great lesson for Americans to learn.”
Clinton, widely considered the Democratic front-runner since the beginning of the presidential campaign, conceded defeat as she and Edwards continued to vie for the No. 2 spot.
“I’m so proud to have run with such exceptional candidates,” she said. “Together, we presented a case for change.”