[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/14/art.mccain0214.ap.jpg caption="Things are starting to fall into place for John McCain"] WASHINGTON (CNN) - Things are beginning to fall into place very nicely for John McCain. With Mitt Romney’s endorsement, his campaign is clearly moving toward the next phase. He has already lined up most of the Senate and House Republican leaders. They gathered with him this week to praise his campaign and to swipe away at the two remaining Democratic candidates. The Republican governors and big city mayors will be next.
Mike Huckabee continues his uphill struggle, but the fact that he is taking some time off to fly to the Cayman Islands this weekend to deliver a paid speech speaks volumes. The former Arkansas governor certainly deserves a lot of credit for what he has achieved – with limited staff and money. He started off with virtually no national name recognition. He came pretty close but not close enough. The stars are aligning for the Arizona senator.
McCain still has an enormous challenge in getting the conservative base on board. He is making progress now that almost everyone assumes he has the nomination wrapped up. But there are still many lingering doubts about his record on campaign finance reform, comprehensive immigration reform, global warming, tax cuts, and other issues. But he has started the process of party unification. His strong stance on national security will help.
His life will be made easier in the coming weeks by the fact that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be fighting it out for delegates. In the process, he can afford to take the high road – at least for now.
Programming note: Watch Larry King’s exclusive interview with GOP front-runner John McCain tonight on Larry King Live at 9 P.M. Eastern.