Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday January 31, 2008
McCain defeats Romney in Florida vote
Senator John McCain defeated Mitt Romney to win the delegate-rich Florida primary on Tuesday, solidifying his transformation to Republican front-runner and dealing a devastating blow to the presidential hopes of Rudolph Giuliani.
Republican officials said after Giuliani’s distant third-place finish that he was likely to endorse McCain, possibly as early as Wednesday in California. They said the two candidates’ staffs were discussing the logistics of an endorsement.
McCain’s victory showed he could win among Republican voters. Florida allows only registered Republicans to vote in its primary, unlike New Hampshire and South Carolina, where McCain’s earlier victories were fueled by independent voters.
With 97 percent of the precincts reporting, McCain had 36 percent of the vote, Romney 31 percent, Giuliani 15 percent and Mike Huckabee 14 percent.
“Our victory might not have reached landslide proportions,” McCain said, “but it is sweet nonetheless.”
After a campaign in which he was often on the attack, McCain praised his rivals, especially Giuliani, who he said had “invested his heart and soul in this primary, and who conducted himself with all the qualities of the exceptional American leader he truly is.”
But the outcome could be decisive for Giuliani, who suffered lopsided losses in all the early voting states this year, and had staked his candidacy on a strong showing in Florida, where he campaigned more than anywhere else and outspent his rivals on television advertisements over the last month.
Exit polls showed that Giuliani did not even have a clear edge among voters who were most concerned about his signature issue, terrorism; incomplete returns Tuesday night showed him narrowly finishing ahead of Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, who barely campaigned in Florida.
Giuliani, speaking in Orlando, thanked his supporters and talked about his campaign in the past tense but did not drop out of the race. “The responsibility of leadership doesn’t end with a single campaign,” he said in a serious, gracious speech that he leavened with a humorous asides. “If you believe in a cause, it goes on and you continue to fight for it, and we will. I’m proud that we chose to stay positive and to run a campaign of ideas.” (The New York Times)