March 4th, 2008
10:30 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain wins GOP nomination, Huckabee withdraws

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. John McCain clinched the GOP presidential nomination Tuesday, according to CNN projections."]
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.

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Filed under: John McCain • Mike Huckabee
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Amazing

    It was wonderful to watch the republicans maintain their dignity throughout their primary all the way to Huckabee congratulating McCain as he did.

    March 4, 2008 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  2. Chris in Va.

    Well Huckabee finally has the good sense to call it quits. Hillary on the other hand will still be contesting the results two years after Obama's second term.

    March 4, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  3. kathleen

    None of this matters to most Americans because being
    Republican means you will take care of your own. Cronies
    RIch friends.
    One question: Who paid for the BBQ for the cronies. Did
    Cindy cook? I bet Bush didn't make time to come. It sounds
    like the men had a slumber party for idiots.

    Obama 2008

    March 4, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  4. Daniel

    I agree. And if you read most of the blogs, the Obamabots are even more fanatical than the Moral Majority. Oops – they could be identical. They are the worst for not letting the democratic process play out and have so much hatred that who knows, maybe McCain may pick up some of Hillary's supporters.

    March 4, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  5. Kayne DeGrenier

    GO McCain!!!!

    March 4, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  6. Jacob

    As a democrat, I believe this was the best choice for the republican party. It's going to be a tough fight between these two parties in the general election. I wish both candidates the best of luck.

    Congrats McCain, and I'm sorry Mr. Huckabee that the Super Delegates can only vote at the Democratic Convention.

    March 4, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  7. garal

    McCain, you are on your way to the White House!

    March 4, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  8. Luke

    Never thought I would hear republican and dignity and the same sentence. I am sorry I had to do it.
    Seriously though it was very nice to see.

    March 4, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  9. Theresa, Sound Beach NY

    Thank you big media.

    March 4, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  10. Political Patriot

    How sad the American people were duped into thinking McCain's conservative. Wake up America – we know have all our major candidates for President who are pro-amnesty, pro-North American Union.

    Google Ron Paul, the CFR, North American Union, Security Prosperity partnership of north american ( Wake up America! Get involved at the county level. Introduce people to the principles of the Founding Fathers. Don't accept this false patriotism – re-discover what America was founded on.

    March 4, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  11. Jen

    Hillary, once again, time to step down. You are ruining your party.

    March 4, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  12. Sabrina, Las Vegas, NV

    This is not only crazy, it's sad. A 72 year old man, with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, is the best the GOP could do, for nominee?
    Will they be releasing his health records?

    March 4, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  13. heh

    Good job McCain in securing your party's nom.

    Sadly it won't be long before the claws come out as they always do from he republican side and we all remember why a republican white house wouldn't be good for 2008. Please people look up exactly how he's trying to appeal to both conservatives and his liberal republicans, all while blindly following Bush's way of running or rather ruining the economy. He focuses only on military issues but what you all realize if we keep ignoring the faults of our economy, after the 100 year war he has planned for us, the soldiers won't have a USA to go to, if we don't die from the global warming the repubs. ignore because everyone of them was wrong, but whatever.

    If not Obama, then Hilary 08 (hooray for true democrats!)

    March 4, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  14. Karen

    I have a comment about the talking heads on CNN saying that Hillary's ads have been "negative"!!! How so? She simply asks who would you want to pick up the phone in the white house in the case of an emergency call? I'm sorry to break it to you, but there's nothing negative about that. Now, you want negative – take Obama's attacking her on NAFTA when he knows darn good and well that she has never been a staunch supporter and has a plan to get firmer on the other participating countries. That's not only negative, but dishonest as well!!

    March 4, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  15. Jed in Texas

    Nice try Huck,now get your kids signed up for the Draft.

    March 4, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  16. C

    Glad to see Huckabee came to his senses......

    And...........glad to see that ROMNEY still came in 2nd!

    Conservatives....and moderate conservatives.....some of us who will have to eat our words, me included.....will vote for McCain as either of the other two will more liberal than many desire.

    March 4, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  17. cesar

    McCain is the man.He has what it takes to lead this country.Imagine having Obama or Clinton leading the war on terror? We need this American Hero in the White House.GO McCain. HE IS THE ONE.

    March 4, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  18. Zach

    So much for that miracle you were waiting for. Good job though on your 3rd place finish, as hard as you tried you still came in behind both McCain and Romney.

    March 4, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  19. Mary - Independent

    Huckabee did a great job in his attempt to represent the Republican party. I am sorry that he didn't have more time to campaign and that he couldn't care more votes. Go Hilary!!

    March 4, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  20. Conservative

    Looks like Ron Paul is going to sneak up and win this thing

    March 4, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  21. Ricky

    I can't say that I think Mc Cain was the right choice. He's going to get slaughtered come November: even his own party don't really rate him.

    It's such a shame there's no strong 3rd party contenders this year, it could've been their big chance....

    March 4, 2008 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  22. Mike

    Finally Huckabee grows up and gets out "without losing his morals" which apparently include religion bashing and other dirty politics. He should have been man enough to admit he was a loser a month ago and given Romney a shot with conservatives. Now we're stuck with a Pseudo- Conservative in McCain. And two flaming liberals in the Democratic Party.

    March 4, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |

    There are 100's of comments on other stories. There
    are only 16 comments on this McCain announcement
    of a win for him. That proves no one cares.

    Two losers won tonight.

    OBAMA 2008

    March 4, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  24. Terry

    I love that Huckabee told Romney he needs to drop out and to stop splitting teh conservative vote. Romney does and 1 month later Huckabee drops ouit after how many primaries and he STILL doesn't have as many delegates as Romney got ! How pathetic!

    March 4, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  25. Huckabee for Presidential Candidate as Independent

    Extreme right wing's voice needs to be heard. And frankly, he looks most honest of them all.

    March 4, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
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