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US presidential hopefuls brace for next key contests

 US presidential hopefuls brace for next key contests
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Michigan is the next prize in the sights of Republican presidential hopefuls in the United States as the race for the party’s nomination hots up. Opinion polls indicate a tight contest on Tuesday between John McCain, fresh from victory in New Hampshire last week, and high-spending Mitt Romney.

Brought up in Michigan, where his father was governor, Romney needs a breakthrough win to keep his White House hopes alive. So far he has only managed two second-place finishes.

Democrats have refused to campaign in the state which offended the national party by advancing the date of its primary without approval. They are instead preparing for contests in Nevada and South Carolina.

Race has became a focus of the Democratic campaign.

Hillary Clinton has accused rival Barack Obama of distorting her remarks about Martin Luther King, and the extent of his role in advancing civil rights.

Obama has called this “ludicrous” but said the former first lady had offended some Americans who believed her comments had marginalized the role played by the assassinated civil rights’ leader.

The black vote will be key in South Carolina.

John Edwards, meanwhile, a native of the state, is hoping to secure his first victory in the Democratic contest.