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Arizona senator within reach of GOP nod

The Associated Press
CAMPAIGN 2008: SUPER TUESDAY

WASHINGTON – John McCain’s string of cross-country victories put him on the brink of being unstoppable – and showed his appeal across all segments of the Republican Party.
The Arizona senator was racking up enough convention delegates in Super Tuesday’s coast-to-coast voting to place him within reach of the Republican presidential nomination that eluded him eight years ago. Mitt Romney sought to stretch out the bruising race for weeks more while Mike Huckabee competed for relevancy.
“We’ve won some of the biggest states in the country. We have won primaries in the West, the South, the Midwest, and the Northeast,” McCain said. “And although I’ve never minded the role of the underdog . . . we must get used to the idea that we are the Republican Party front-runner for the nomination of president of the United States. And I don’t really mind it one bit.”
He scored big victories in winner-take-all New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware, and won in Illinois, Oklahoma and Arizona, fueled by a number of diverse voting groups, including moderates, independents, men, older voters, veterans and Hispanics. In one of the most hard-fought contests, McCain edged out his rivals to seize Missouri, also a winner-take-all and one Romney had pursued fiercely.
As results were tallied, McCain led with 371 delegates, to 160 for Romney and 128 for Huckabee. It takes 1,191 to win the nomination at this summer’s convention in St. Paul, Minn.
“One thing that’s clear is this campaign’s going on!” Romney said, undeterred by the deficit – and the fact that he won only caucuses in North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota as well as primaries in Massachusetts, his home state, and Utah, whose huge Mormon population was friendly to one of their own.
Huckabee, too, promised to press on and tried to edge out Romney. Christian evangelicals contributed to the former Arkansas governor’s strong showings in the South and helped cut into Romney’s standing among conservatives.
“I’ve got to say that Mitt Romney was right about one thing – this is a two man race. He was just wrong about who the other man in the race was. It’s me, not him,” Huckabee said, emboldened by wins in West Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Arkansas.

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