CBNNews.com - Republican presidential candidate John McCain easily won the Wisconsin and Washington state primaries, edging closer to the 1,191 delegates he needs to clinch the Republican nomination.
McCain beat former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the Republican race, who has stayed in the race despite trailing far behind in the delegate count. The win awards McCain 37 delegates from Wisconsin, and 19 from Washington.
Overall, McCain had 939 delegates and Huckabee had 245.
At a victory rally, McCain said that he was a superstitious man but that now he can "claim with confidence and humility" that he'll be taking his party into the presidential election. He took aim at Sen. Barack Obama, who also won Wisconsin Tuesday night.
He echoed Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton's theme that Obama delivers nothing but fancy words.
"I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than the people," he said.
McCain had no criticism of his rival for staying in the race.
"I want to commend Governor Huckabee, who has shown impressive grit and passion himself, and whom, though he remains my opponent, I have come to admire very much," he said.
Huckabee Vows to Press on
Despite being mathematically unable to catch McCain in the hunt for delegates, Huckabee has rebuffed the occasional suggestions - none of them by McCain - that he quit the race.
He said his decision to stay in is "not about ego" but about his convictions. He said he spoke with McCain and thanked him for running a civil campaign.
Huckabee hasn't won a contest since Feb. 9. But he says he still wants to deliver his message about issues important to him, such as opposition to abortion and a revised U.S. tax policy. He vows "to keep marching on."
Huckabee already has campaign appearances set in Ohio and Texas, which hold primaries March 4.
In an unusual move for a presidential contender, he left the country in recent days to make a paid speech in the Grand Cayman Islands.
Running as the Nominee
McCain's emergence as front-runner in the GOP race, has prompted him to switch gears in his campaign strategy. With the party's nod considered locked-up, McCain has transitioned from a primary campaign into a general election candidacy.
"I'm not the youngest candidate. But I am the most experienced," he said. "I know what our military can do, what it can do better, and what it should not do. I know how Congress works, and how to make it work for the country and not just the re-election of its members."
The Republican party convention will be held in St. Paul, Minn. next summer.
Earlier this week, McCain picked up endorsements from former President George H.W. Bush and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Romney dropped out of the race earlier this month. He has urged his 280 delegates to swing behind the party's nominee-to-be.
Voters Weigh In
Early exit poll figures showed Arizona Sen. John McCain made some gains with his party's pivotal conservative voters. Still, he and Huckabee were evenly divided conservatives, a group McCain has struggled all year to win,
McCain had a near 3-to-1 lead among moderates, a group that has strongly backed him.
Huckabee fared well again with white, born-again and evangelical Christians, winning six in 10 of their votes. But they comprised only a quarter of voters in the GOP contest.
McCain was winning six in 10 votes of all other voters. That included getting just over half the votes of people calling themselves loyal Republicans.
Among independents - his usual strength - he attracted slightly more than four in 10 votes, compared to one-third for Huckabee and one in 10 for Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
The figures came from partial samples of an exit poll conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International in 35 precincts in Wisconsin for The Associated Press and television networks. Those interviewed included 878 Democrats and 454 Republicans. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 5 percentage points for Democrats and plus or minus 7 percentage points for Republicans.
Source: The Associated Press