Senator John McCain has clinched the Republican presidential nomination. The Los Angeles Times reports:
John McCain swept to victory in four state primaries today, capturing the Republican presidential nomination that just two months ago seemed beyond his reach...
"Thank you. Thank you, Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island," McCain said to supporters gathered in Dallas to help celebrate his securing the nomination. "I am very grateful for the broad support you have given our campaign. And 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 States."
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, McCain's last challenger for the nomination, dropped out of the race less than half an hour after the final polls closed in El Paso. Addressing his supporters in Irving, Texas, a resigned Huckabee said he called McCain moments earlier to congratulate the Arizona senator and pledged "to do everything possible to unite our party" and to "unite our country so that we can be the best nation we can be."
Flanked by his wife, Janet, Huckabee called McCain "an honorable man" who ran an honorable campaign.
McCain is expected to go to the White House on Wednesday to receive President Bush's endorsement.
Who McCain will face in the general election remained unclear....
Campaigning in Texas, McCain said he was eager to start the fall race against the Democrats. Asked to predict his likely opponent, McCain told reporters at San Antonio's Armadillo Palace that he would await the outcome of the party's nominating fight.
"We will have stark differences," he said, regardless of whom he faces in the fall.
I'll have more commentary later, as I'm going back to the TV to watch the Demcratic returns.
I can say now, though, that I'm so pleased with McCain's triumph. I can remember in December when the cable networks were broadcasting travel videos of McCain lugging his bags through airport terminals, with a lonely look of undeflected determination. Man, I can't forget those images!
I've felt good about McCain's campaign since New Hampshire - that is, I never really doubted his ultimate nomination after the huge Granite State comeback (momentum's a powerful thing). Sure, there were some tense moments, especially around the time of South Carolina and Florida, but when I posted on Robert Novak's essay in January, "McCain is Likely GOP Nominee," I genuinely believed it.
At this point, the longer the Democratic race drags out, the more tickled I'll be!
This week Obama's already faced considerably more scrutiny, and polls are finding McCain not only more experienced, but exponentially so. McCain naturally leads Clinton on defense as well, and contra to Stanley Fish's argument from last night, I don't think Clinton's that much better on national security than is Obama (he's a lightweight, she's a flip-flopper).
Congratulations to John McCain!
Photo Credit: New York Times