Mitt Romney Endorses Former Rival McCain

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One-time rival in a heated GOP race for the nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is now backing Sen. John McCain for President.

"Even when the contest was close and our disagreements were debated, the caliber of the man was apparent," Romney said, standing alongside his one-time rival at his now-defunct campaign headquarters in Boston. 

McCain took a quick break from campaigning in Vermont and Rhode Island to accept the endorsement in person.

"We all know this was a hard campaign. and now we move forward, we move forward together for the good of our party and the nation," said McCain.

With the endorsement also comes all Romney's delegates. Romney collected 280 delegates during his run through the early primaries and caucuses. Those numbers bring McCain closer to the 1,191 needed to clinch the GOP nomination.

Officials say Romney can ask his delegates to support McCain to the extent permitted by state law and party rules.

For several months, the two candidates criticized each other on the campaign trail, as each battled for the top spot.

But last week, Romney dropped out of the race after suffering a poor showing in the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday showdown.

Today Romney is backing McCain for president. Officials said the decision to back McCain had been made earlier in the day. The endorsement is an effort to help McCain seal the nomination before while Democrats still did not have a nominee.

Those numbers are big boost for McCain who is already far ahead of rival Mike Huckabee in the hunt for delegates. Despite losses this week in the Potomac primaries, Huckabee has said he will not bow out of the race.

Huckabee has proven an unexpectedly durable challenger. With a strong appeal to evangelical conservatives, Huckabee defeated McCain in two out of three states that chose delegates last weekend, and ran a far stronger race than expected before losing the Virginia primary on Tuesday.

Source: The Associated Press

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