Led by Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain, candidates fanned out across the country on Wednesday in a U.S. presidential race dramatically reshaped by their comeback wins in New Hampshire.
Clinton, the New York senator and former first lady, defied the polls to narrowly upset Barack Obama in New Hampshire on Tuesday and set up a tough Democratic nominating battle that now heads to South Carolina and Nevada.
The 71-year-old McCain's political rebirth also gave his once-struggling campaign new life and put him in the midst of a wild scramble for the Republican nomination that has so far produced no clear favorite.
The typically stoic Clinton conceded that an emotional moment during a pre-election rally on Monday, in which she came close to tears as she discussed her reasons for wanting the presidency, may have helped her.
I had this incredible moment of connection with the voters of New Hampshire and they saw it and they heard it. And they gave me this incredible victory last night, she said on CBS' Early Show on Wednesday.
The state-by-state race to pick candidates for the November election to succeed President George W. Bush now goes national before the February 5 Super Tuesday showdown, when 22 states hold contests.
The race changes from the intimate, face-to-face politics that characterized Iowa and New Hampshire to a wider national campaign driven by big-money television ads and cross-country plane trips.
New Hampshire's voters refused to follow the lead of Iowa, which last week gave Democrat Obama, 46, and Republican former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 52, the first big wins of the U.S. presidential race.
Clinton, 60, who finished third in Iowa, faced predictions of doom before New Hampshire. Polls showed her trailing Obama by double-digits but she pulled out a narrow win.
MONEY ROLLS IN
Terry McAuliffe, national campaign chairman for Clinton, said the New Hampshire comeback had spurred nearly $750,000 in donations to her campaign overnight and sparked more than 500 hits per minute on her Web site.
It was a big, big win for this campaign. I cannot tell you how excited we are as we move forward, he said.
Obama, the Illinois senator bidding to be the first black president, had hoped for a New Hampshire win that would solidify his hold on the top spot in the race.
Right now we are in a very close contest and that will probably go all the way through February 5 as the voters lift the hood and kick the tires and make an assessment -- who's going to really fight for them and their families and the concerns that they're facing, he said on NBC's Today show.
McCain's Republican win was a spectacular comeback for the former Vietnam prisoner of war, who was written off for dead in the summer when he was low on cash, falling in the polls and shedding campaign staff.
McCain headed to Michigan, site of the next Republican battle on Tuesday. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 60, faces a possible must-win there after back-to-back losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, and Huckabee will also contend.
McCain won Michigan during his failed presidential bid in 2000, Romney grew up there as the son of a former governor and auto executive, and Huckabee, a Baptist minister, will look to make inroads with the state's evangelical Christians.
This state can again play a key role. We won here in 2000 and we will win again in 2008, McCain told an airport rally in Grand Rapids, first of two Michigan stops before he heads to South Carolina for two days of campaigning.
South Carolina looms as a potential showdown state in both parties. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who placed second in Iowa and third in New Hampshire, is hoping to be a serious contender there on the Democratic side.
The big Republican fight could occur January 19 in the state, where McCain's 2000 bid effectively died in a bitter battle with Bush.
South Carolina has a large bloc of religious conservatives who could be drawn to fellow Southerner Huckabee, and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson was already there on Tuesday as New Hampshire voted.
Democrats vote next in Nevada on January 19 before their January 26 showdown in South Carolina, where Obama could hold an advantage in a state where more than half of Democratic primary voters are expected to be black.
Republican former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has focused his efforts on Florida, which votes on January 29, in hopes a strong showing there will propel him into the February 5 contests with momentum.
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Michigan, Jeff Mason in New Hampshire and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by David Wiessler)