DALLAS, Texas (CNN) – Sen. John McCain accepted the mantle of presumptive GOP nominee for president, thanking his supporters in Rhode Island, Texas, Ohio and Vermont - states he won Tuesday night to take him over the top in delegates.
"I am very, very grateful and pleased to note that tonight, my friends, we have won enough delegates to claim with confidence, humility and a great sense of responsibility, that I will be the Republican nominee for president of the United States," the Arizona senator said.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee quit the presidential race after it became clear that McCain would win the Republican nomination, after winning Tuesday's GOP primaries.
"It's now important that we turn our attention not to what could have been or what we wanted to have been, but now what must be - and that is a united party," Huckabee told supporters in Dallas, Texas, after losing Tuesday's primary in Texas and three other states.
Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, thanked volunteers for "keeping the faith" and told them, "I'd rather lose an election than lose the principles that got me into politics in the first place."
"Tonight, I hope that our battle was never about us," he said. "It was about our country and our liberty. And now we join with Sen. McCain and the rest of our party to continue that battle."
Huckabee drew first blood in the GOP race, winning the January 3 Iowa caucuses, and won several Deep South states in the February 5 "Super Tuesday" contests. But he struggled to gain traction outside the region, while McCain won big states like New York and California handily and swept Tuesday's contests in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Huckabee's exit leaves anti-war Texas congressman Ron Paul, a former Libertarian presidential candidate, as McCain's sole remaining opponent.
McCain's campaign - his second run for the White House - was largely written off for dead last summer amid outspoken opposition from the party's conservative base, a major staff shakeup and disappointing fund-raising.
Hillary is the True Winner NOT Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is the election we will all look back on years from now and say: "How on earth did we not elect Mitt Romney?"
Many believe the GOP has taken the final step in sealing their doom by first betraying and then deserting the very voters who put them in power.
The irresponsible spending and corruption during the last eight years topped off with the nomination of a man who knows only war and who fails to practice those things that he espouses leads me to agree with them.
I am a republican conservative. But I'd rather vote democrat than support McCain.
if hillary wins, I will fervently support McCain...he is like a slightly older Obama, or rather he is a maverick rather than a rockstar
I miss Romney. I will always be annoyed with Hickabee for spoiling his campaign.
Do Romney and McCain hate each other too much for me to hope that Mitt could still be V.P.? Somebody has to turn this economy around.
Im a Conservative, McCain is a Moderate, Obama and Hillary are socialists. If you dont think im voting for McCain then you are an idiot.
Ugh, he looks like my Biodiversity Lab professor. I don't like McCain, he's cold hearted.
This is huckabee's long overdue exit? Come on Huck I thought you'd be the spoiler forever! What gives?
Hucks kids won't be able to sign up for the draft because the military doesn't want the rejects.
OK. NY Mayer, here's your Independent candidate to spend your $1Billion.
FINALLY!!! Huckabee, don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out!
Thank you, Jesus! Get you behind us, Huckster.
Kevin if you're swayed that easily you were never a conservative republican to begin with.
What are all of these so-called "base conservatives" angry with McCain about?
It is so strange. He seems fairly harmless.
I would love to be able to vote for Obama in November, but if it's Hillary against McCain, I will probably choose to vote for him.
At least he's not part of a dynasty.
Our democracy was not meant to be handed off, back and forth between two families.