In stunning political developments in the United States, Democrat African-American Barack Obama defeated former first lady Hillary Clinton in the opening 2008 White House nominating contest while Republican Mike Huckabee scored a facile win over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
The victory of 46-year-old Obama, the first time Senator from Illinois, in Iowa caucuses on Thursday night dealt a serious blow to the bid of New York Senator Clinton to become the first US woman President while gave a boost to his own chances to become the first black American to occupy the White House.
Final Democratic returns showed Obama gaining 38 per cent support. Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential candidate, stood second, edging out Clinton in a tight battle.
"We are choosing hope over fear," Obama told a victory rally, adding, "We are choosing unity over division and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America."
Image: Democratic presidential hopeful and Illinois Senator Barack Obama adresses supporters during his caucus night rally at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, Iowa.
Reportage: PTI | Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Also read: Analysis: Obama wins youth, women in Iowa