CBNNews.com - Arizona Sen. John McCain, a political maverick and unflinching supporter of the war in Iraq, clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday night.
McCain, 71, gained the 1,191 delegates needed to claim the Republican nomination with a series of primary victories, completing a remarkable comeback that began in New Hampshire six weeks ago.
"I am very pleased to note that tonight, my friends, we have won enough delegates to claim with confidence, humility and a sense of great responsibility that I will be the Republican nominee for President of the United Statesm," he said in Dallas Tuesday night.
Now, we begin the most important part of our campaign: to make a respectful, determined and convincing case to the American people that our campaign and my election as President, given the alternatives presented by our friends in the other party, are in the best interests of the country we love.
Meanwhile, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee dropped out the race tonight and threw his support behind "the Mac."
"My commitment to him and the party is to do everything possible to unite our party,but more important to unite our country so that we can be the best we can be," Huckabee said in Irving, Texas.
Huckabee was the Arizona senator's chief remaining rival.
McCain, the former Vietnam prisoner of war, is making his second try for the White House, after losing the GOP nomination to Bush in 2000.
McCain went over the top in the Associated Press' delegate count based on his performance in the night's primaries as well as a late show of support from Republican National Committee members who are delegates to the party convention next summer in St. Paul, Minn. Campaign aides readied an enormous banner bearing the magic number to serve as a backdrop for a victory celebration in Dallas.
The Ohio count was delayed by heavy voting that kept some polls in Sandusky and Cleveland open for 90 minutes past the scheduled 7:30 p.m. close.
McCain's Vermont victory left him with 1,062 delegates out of the 1,191 needed for the nomination at the party convention next summer in St. Paul, Minn. There were 256 Republican delegates at stake in the four states on the night's ballot.
McCain's sole major remaining rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, had 257 delegates, and posed no threat.
It was McCain's second run at the nomination, after his loss to George W. Bush in 2000. The Arizona senator was the early front-runner in the GOP race this time, but his campaign nearly imploded last summer.
He regrouped, reassuming the underdog role that he relishes, and methodically dispatched one rival after another in a string of primaries in January and early February.
"I understand the responsibilities I incur with this nomination, and I give you my word, I will not evade or slight a single one," he said during his victory speech. "Our campaign must be, and will be more than another tired debate of false promises, empty sound-bites, or useless arguments from the past that address not a single American's concerns for their family's security."
Source: The Associated Press, CNN