CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) - Sen. John McCain savored his win in South Carolina's Republican primary Saturday night, thanking voters "for bringing us across the finish line first in the first in the South primary."
"It took us a while, but what's eight years among friends?" the Arizona senator said, referring to the drubbing he took from George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina primary.
"In the course of this campaign, I've tried as best I could to tell people the truth ... about the challenges facing our country and how I intend to address them," he said. "Before I can win your vote, I must earn your respect, and the only way I know how to do that is by being honest with you.
" ... So far, it seems to be working pretty well."
(CNN) - The campaign of John Edwards, who will finish a distant third in Nevada - where he currently has just 4 percent of the vote, with 98 percent of precincts reporting – said tonight that “the race to the nomination is a marathon and not a sprint."
Edwards has focused on the race in his birth state of South Carolina, avoiding the Nevada contest.
In a Saturday night statement, his campaign congratulated Hillary Clinton for her victory in the state, before noting that “John Edwards is the underdog in this campaign, facing two $100 million candidates."
They added that “...The race to the nomination is a marathon and not a sprint, and we’re committed to making sure the voices of all the voters in the remaining 47 states are heard. The nomination won’t be decided by win-loss records, but by delegates, and we’re ready to fight for every delegate.”
South Carolina’s Democrats head to the polls next Saturday.
(CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee thanked his supporters and congratulated South Carolina's apparent GOP primary winner Sen. John McCain for running "a civil and a good and a decent campaign."
"The two of us who finished at the top ran a campaign of civility without attacking each other," Huckabee said. "I'd rather be where I am and to have gotten here with honor than to have won with the dishonor of attacking other candidates."
However, he added, the GOP presidential race "is not an event, it is a process - and the process is far, far from over."
(CNN) – Former Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter said Saturday he would not throw his weight behind another White House hopeful at this point, and would not reveal whether he would back any of his former opponents before the GOP convention this summer.
“I want to see who’s going to be strongest on maintaining a strong national defense, a secure border including a border fence, and meeting the challenges of an emerging China. I haven’t put a lot of thought into an endorsement,” he said.
The conservative California congressman, who plans a press conference later this evening, said Saturday that he is abandoning his bid for his party’s presidential nomination because results in Nevada suggested to him that “there’s not daylight in the campaign.”
Shortly before the New Hampshire primary, the underdog presidential candidate lashed out at "knucklehead media executives" who did not include him in the New Hampshire primary debates, telling reporters he was staying in the race despite widespread expectations he would announce his withdrawal at that point.
"So here's my answer: I'm not going to quit. I'm staying in," he said then.
On Saturday, he seemed satisfied with his decision to withdraw, saying that his campaign had been a “great, worthwhile experience… a campaign that drove the issues.”
Will Fred Thompson stay in the presidential race? (Photo Credit: AP)
(CNN) - After a weak showing in the South Carolina primary, Fred Thompson gave a wistful speech to supporters, telling them "we'll always stand strong together."
Thompson had staked his campaign on a strong finish in the Republican primary here.
While he remains in the race, two sources told CNN that "it was abundantly evident to all of us" that the bar was a win or a very competitive second place in South Carolina to continue to be viable in the GOP presidential race.
Thompson has no public schedule Sunday, and is planning to consult with campaign manager Bill Lacy and other top advisers about the next move.
"We are not blind to the obvious," said one senior campaign adviser.
But, given the muddled course of the Republican race so far, both aides said Thompson and his advisers wanted to watch the results come in tonight before making a final decision.
Related video: Watch Thompson's S.C. concession speech
–CNN's John King, Candy Crowley, and Gloria Borger contributed to this report
(CNN) – John McCain is losing to Mike Huckabee among South Carolina Republican primary voters who identify themselves as conservative, but he is overwhelmingly leading among those who say they are moderate or liberal.
According to CNN exit polls, two-thirds of the GOP primary voters identified themselves as conservative. Those voters are breaking for Huckabee, 33 percent to 26 percent.
Meanwhile, roughly a quarter of the GOP primary voters said they were moderates, and 7 percent said they were liberal. McCain edged Huckabee among moderates by 29 points, and among liberals by 27 points.
McCain’s support among South Carolina conservatives has decreased slightly since 2000. In that primary, the Arizona senator won support from 29 percent of conservative voters.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) – More South Carolina Republicans say the economy is their number one concern than any other issue - but neither John McCain or Mike Huckabee have a clear advantage among these voters.
According to CNN exit polls, 40 percent of the state’s GOP primary voters named the economy as their top concern. McCain drew support from 31 percent of those voters to Huckabee’s 29 percent.
In Michigan, McCain's weakness among economy-minded voters compared to Mitt Romney was a major reason he lost that state. Michigan voters who said the economy was the most important issue favored Romney over McCain, 41 percent to 29 percent.
(CNN) - John McCain is doing much better among evangelicals in South Carolina than he did in Iowa, according to CNN's exit polls, but Mike Huckabee is still the overwhelming favorite of the group.
According to the exit polls, 54 percent of South Carolina Republican primary voters identify themselves as "born again" evangelicals. Forty percent of them supported Huckabee, compared to 27 percent who favored McCain.
In Iowa, Huckabee won 46 percent support among the group, while McCain meanwhile garnered just 10 percent.
(CNN) – Republicans named the economy as the most important issue affecting their vote in the South Carolina primary Saturday, according to early exit polling data, echoing Nevada voters in caucuses earlier in the day.
And, like Nevada voters, illegal immigration was the second most important issue. The war Iraq, followed by terrorism, were next, the exit polls showed.