The race for the Republican party’s presidential nomination has been thrown wide open, after Mitt Romney’s victory in the Michigan primary.
He came out on top in the US state, salvaging his bid for the White House.
“Tonight marks the beginning of a comeback, a comeback for America,” he told delighted supporters.
It was a convincing win for Romney, who has close local connections in Michigan where his father was governor.
After victory in New Hampshire, John McCain had to settle for the runner-up spot in Michigan. But the former Vietnam war prisoner was putting a brave face on defeat as he addressed those backing his campaign.
“For a minute, there in New Hampshire, I thought this campaign might be getting easier but, you know what, we have gotten pretty good at doing things the hard way, too, and I think we have shown them we don’t mind a fight and we are in it.”
A distant third, Iowa winner Mike Huckabee was already focussing on Saturday’s crucial vote in South Carolina.
Three big Republican contests have produced three different winners and other candidates like Rudy Giuliani are still staking their claims.
Refusing to campaign in Michigan which offended the national party by advancing the date of its primary without approval, Democrats debated in Nevada, which also votes at the weekend.
Leading contenders Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama pledged to end a damaging dispute over race.