4 JANUARY 2008

"We are sending a powerful message that change is coming to America," triumphant Democratic cadidate Barack Obama told his supporters, after winning the first round of the 2008 US presidential nomination contest along with opposition Republican representative Mike Huckabee.

The 46-year-old, Harvard-educated Democrat, who is the only African American serving in the US senate and is hoping to become the country's first ever black president, led the field at the Iowa caucuses with 38 per cent of the total votes cast.

Caucuses, or primaries as they are also known, take place in each state before parties decide on the candidate to be put forward in the November presidential elections.

In a surprise outcome Mr Obama came out ahead of fellow Democratic candidate and early front-runner Hillary Clinton. Despite placing third in the nomination contest, the former First Lady remains focused on victory. "We have always planned to run a national campaign all the way through the early contests," she says.

Photo: ©
Carrying younger daughter Sacha, the father of two greets supporters during a rally on the night of the poll in which he ended up leading the Democratic candidate field - leaving former First Lady Hillary Clinton in third placePhoto: © AFP
Photo: ©
The former First Lady, whose lagging postion came as something of a surprise to political pundits, pauses to refuel at an Iowa eatery with husband Bill and daughter ChelseaPhoto: © AFP
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