McCain Calls For GOP Unity
Boosted by his big night, John McCain asked his loudest conservative critics Wednesday to "calm down" and support his Republican presidential candidacy, as Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton girded for more rounds of their protracted struggle for the Democratic nomination. Obama dared claim a "big victory" because he came from so far behind, but the spoils were closely divided and the bragging rights, shared.
McCain was referring primarily to radio talk show hosts and other pundits of the right when he appealed for unity now that he has a leg up in the nomination race.
"I think they've made their case against me pretty eloquently," he said, adding wryly, "if that's the right word." He asserted that the pundits' conservative hero Ronald Reagan - and his - reached across the aisle to Democrats just like he wants to do as president.
"I do hope that at some point we would just calm down a little bit and see if there are areas that we can agree on for the good of the party and for the good of the country," he said. The critics argue he's too liberal for the party.
The question of who won Super Tuesday was more easily answered on the GOP side, where McCain piled up more delegates than his two rivals combined and pushed past the halfway mark toward what's needed to clinch the nomination. His victories stretched from New York to California, the biggest prize. Still, Mitt Romney in the West and Mike Huckabee in the South proved to be go-to candidates for conservatives, and they vowed to stay in the thick of the race.
On Saturday, Louisiana and Washington state hold two-party contests while Nebraska Democrats and Kansas Republicans make their picks. Then comes a larger series of two-party primaries in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia on Tuesday.
More than 168 Democratic delegates are at stake Tuesday, a sizable prize in two states and a district that are normally afterthoughts in nomination contests. Clinton, who plans to campaign in Virginia on Thursday, has been endorsed in Maryland by Gov. Martin O'Malley and Sen. Barbara Mikulski; Obama is backed by Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, and is expected to do well in largely black D.C. Republicans will award 116 delegates in the trio of races dubbed the Potomac Primary.
Romney enjoyed his first night at home in a month and then drove himself, his wife, Ann, and his son Craig to his office overlooking Boston Harbor for a strategy session with aides. "Got some good sleep," he said.
Democrats celebrated heavy turnout in several of their races and hoped they could bottle that electricity until the presidential campaign in the fall. As one measure, Clinton managed to get more votes in Minnesota than all that were cast in the 2004 Democratic caucuses in that state, despite her running a distant second to Obama.
McCain's own victory in California dealt a crushing blow to his closest pursuer, Romney, a former Massachusetts governor.
In the competition that counted the most, the Arizona senator had 613 delegates, to 269 for Romney and 190 for Huckabee in incomplete counting. It takes 1,191 to win the GOP nomination.
Polling place interviews with voters suggested subtle shifts in the political landscape.
For the first time this year, McCain ran first in a few states among self-identified Republicans. As usual, he was running strongly among independents. Romney was getting the votes of about four in 10 people who described themselves as conservative. McCain was winning about one-third of that group, and Huckabee about one in five.
McCain won in California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Missouri, Delaware and his home state of Arizona - each of them winner-take-all primaries. He also pocketed victories in Oklahoma and Illinois.
Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, won a series of Bible Belt victories, in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee as well as his own home state. He also triumphed at the Republican West Virginia convention.
Romney won a home state victory in Massachusetts. He also took Utah, where fellow Mormons supported his candidacy. His superior organization produced caucus victories in North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Alaska and Colorado.
The allocation of delegates lagged the vote count by hours. That was particularly true for the Democrats, who divided theirs roughly in proportion to the popular vote. Nine of the Republican contests were winner take all, and that was where McCain piled up his lead.
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I'm just not sure I can do this. After McCain/Kennedy, McCain/Feingold, Voting NO on the Bush Tax Cuts, Amnesty For Illegal Aliens, Not caring much about the damn border, and on and on and on. How can I bring myself to back Senator McCain? I sure as hell am NOT voting for Hillary or Obama, and I'm sure as hell not going to stay home and let the Liberals win. But we are getting a Liberal by voting for McCain!
Well, there is a long way between now and November and I suppose anything could happen. Do I hold my nose and vote McCain in November? What an election this is turning out to be. I just dont know what to do!