Barack Obama pummeled Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin and Hawaii on Tuesday, making it 10 wins in a row against his bitter rival in the Democratic White House race.
Republican John McCain meanwhile fired a pre-emptive strike on his increasingly likely Democratic general election foe, ripping Obama’s “eloquent but empty” rhetoric, after his own easy win in Wisconsin.
Obama’s victories cemented his front-runner status, and left Hillary needing an astonishing turnaround in must-win contests in the states of Ohio and Texas on March 4 to keep her presidential hopes alive.
“I think we’ve achieved liftoff here,” said Obama at a rally in Houston, Texas. “The change we seek is still months and miles away,” he said.
Though Obama and Hillary had been tightly matched going into the Wisconsin primary, which had 74 delegates on offer, he swept to a comprehensive win.
With 97 per cent of precincts reporting, Obama led 58 per cent to Hillary’s 41 per cent.
Later Tuesday, Obama, who is vying to make history as America’s first black president, secured another comprehensive victory as his birth state of Hawaii held its caucuses, US media reported.
Hillary, stung by another blow to her hopes of becoming America’s first woman president, pleaded with voters to pause to consider who was truly qualified to lead the country.
“Both Senator Obama and I would make history. But only one of us is ready on day one to be commander-in-chief, ready to manage our economy, and ready to defeat the Republicans.
“That is the choice in this election.”
Senator McCain rapping Obama’s “eloquent but empty call for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy” asked: “Will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan?” referring to Obama’s threat to strike at Al-Qaeda without Islamabad’s permission if necessary.