McCain Wins Fla., Giuliani To Drop Out - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

McCain Wins Fla., Giuliani To Drop Out

(CBS/AP) Arizona Senator John McCain will win the Florida Republican primary, beating former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in a key contest one week before Super Tuesday.

After a disappointing finish behind the leaders, CBS News confirms that former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is expected to drop out of the race Wednesday in Los Angeles and plans to endorse McCain.

With all precincts reporting, McCain got 36 percent and Romney got 31 percent of the vote. Giuliani got 15 percent in the state he staked his campaign on and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee got 14 percent. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was far behind with three percent.

In the Democratic race, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton got 50 percent of the vote, with Sen. Barack Obama coming in second with 33 percent. Former Sen. John Edwards trailed with 14 percent. However, that contest drew no significant attention by any of the contenders - and awarded no delegates to the winner after national party officials stripped the state of its delegates because it scheduled the primary before Feb. 5.

For Republicans the contest offers the state's 57 delegates to this summer's Republican national convention and a big burst of energy in the weeklong sprint to Super Tuesday. A total of 1,191 delegates are needed to secure the Republican nomination.

"It shows one thing. I'm the conservative leader who can unite the party," McCain said after the win in the hard-fought contest. 

"It's a very significant boost, but I think we've got a tough week ahead and a lot of states to come," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.

According to CBS News exit polls, McCain's Florida coalition was made up of voters he has counted on many times before - party mavericks. He received substantial support from groups like independents, seculars, pro-choice voters, and those Republicans dissatisfied with the Bush administration. Voters' economic concerns also helped propel him to a win. 

"It may not have been a landslide for Senator McCain," said CBSNews.com senior political editor Vaughn Ververs, "but it was a big win that thrusts him into the driver's seat in this race. McCain becomes the first candidate in either party to win back-to-back victories in big, contested contests. That he finally won one in a Republican-only primary is sweet icing on the cake for a candidate with vocal critics in his own party."

Giuliani ran third, his best showing of the campaign but not nearly good enough for the one-time front-runner who decided to make his last stand in a state that is home to tens of thousands of transplanted New Yorkers.

In remarks to supporters in Orlando, the former New York mayor referred to his candidacy repeatedly in the past tense - as though it were over. "We'll stay involved and together we'll make sure that we'll do everything we can to hand our nation off to the next generation better than it was before," he said.

Later, CBS News confirmed he is expected to drop out of the race Wednesday.

Romney, who has spent millions of dollars of his personal fortune to run for the White House, vowed to stay in the race.

"At a time like this, America needs a president in the White House who has actually had a job in the real economy," he told supporters in St. Petersburg.

Romney ran 4,475 television commercials in Florida through the last week to McCain's 470, reports CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer.

Florida marked the end of one phase of the campaign, the last in a series of single-state contests.

The campaign goes national next week, with 21 states holding primaries and caucuses on Tuesday and 1,023 party convention delegates at stake.

"A friendly landscape in the upcoming Super Tuesday states must have the McCain campaign smiling tonight," CBSNews.com's Ververs added. "But Mitt Romney's deep pockets and formidable campaign machine can't be discounted. This is still a two-person contest, with 'contest' being the operative word." 

The victory was another step in one of the most remarkable political comebacks of recent times. McCain entered the race the front-runner, then found his campaign unraveling last summer as his stands in favor of the Iraq War and a controversial immigration bill proved unpopular.

The war gradually became less of a concern after President Bush's decision to increase troop deployments began to produce results. McCain also sought to readjust his position on immigration.

By the time of the New Hampshire primary, he was primed for victory, and got it. He won the South Carolina primary last week, taking first place in the state that had snuffed out his presidential hopes in 2000.

McCain's victory was his first-ever primary win in a state that allowed only Republicans to vote. His previous triumphs, in New Hampshire and South Carolina this year, and in two states in 2000 came in elections open to independents. He campaigned with the support of the state's two top Republican elected officials, Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez.

Romney's only primary win so far was in Michigan, a state where he grew up and claimed a home-field advantage. He also has caucus victories to his credit in Wyoming and Nevada.

Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and ordained Baptist minister, who has not won since the Iowa caucuses nearly a month ago. He said Tuesday he wanted to show he was "still contending," but was looking forward to Super Tuesday when a slew of conservative southern states vote.

On the Democratic side, Clinton sought to emphasize her performance in the state despite the lack of delegates awarded by holding a rally as the polls were closing.

"I could not come here in person to ask you for your votes, but I am here to thank you for your votes today," she said at a rally in the state on Tuesday night. "This has been a record turnout because Floridians wanted their voices to be heard. I promise you I will do everything I can to make sure not only are Florida's Democratic delegates seated but Florida is in the winning column for the Democrats in 2008."

Clinton's chief strategist, Mark Penn, citing the turnout of 1.5 million Democrats, called the results "significant" and "far more than symbolic."

Clinton challenged Obama to agree to seat the delegates on the basis of the night's vote, but he demurred, saying he would abide by an agreement all Democratic candidates had made months ago.

"Those decisions will be made after the nomination, not before," Obama told reporters Tuesday on a plane from Washington to Kansas. "Obviously, I care a lot about the people in Michigan and a lot about the people in Florida. And I want their votes in the general election. We'll be actively campaigning for them."

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