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New Hampshire Votes in Crucial Step Toward US Presidency


Voters in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire are going to the polls Tuesday, in a key primary election - part of the process to select presidential candidates for the Republican and Democratic parties.

Public opinion surveys released Monday indicate Republican Senator John McCain has a slight lead on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The Arizona senator told supporters he would be the best candidate to face the challenge of radical Islam.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won last week's Iowa caucus, is running third in most New Hampshire polls.

Among the Democratic candidates, polls indicate Illinois Senator Barack Obama holds a lead over New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Large crowds cheered Obama at campaign appearances Monday, but he cautioned supporters not to be overconfident.

Clinton vowed to continue her campaign regardless of the results in New Hampshire.

Results from the Dixville Notch district of New Hampshire, which voted just after midnight local time (0500 UTC) Tuesday, gave McCain four votes, Romney two and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani one. On the Democratic side, Obama received seven votes, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards two votes and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson one vote.

The state-by-state nominating process culminates with the Democratic and Republican parties' national conventions in August and September to choose a candidate for the November general election.

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