Sen. John McCain clinches GOP nomination
WASHINGTON ” Arizona Sen. John McCain, a political maverick and unflinching supporter of the war in Iraq, clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday.
McCain, 71, gained the 1,191 delegates needed to claim the Republican nomination with a series of primary victories, completing a remarkable comeback that began in the snows of New Hampshire six weeks ago. President Bush invited him to the White House for a show of support on Wednesday.
The former Vietnam prisoner of war is making his second try for the White House, after losing the GOP nomination to Bush in 2000.
McCain went over the top in the Associated Press’ delegate count based on his performance in the night’s primaries as well as a late show of support from Republican National Committee members who are delegates to the party convention next summer in St. Paul, Minn. Campaign aides readied an enormous banner bearing the magic number to serve as a backdrop for a victory celebration in Dallas.
McCain’s Vermont victory left him with 1,062 delegates out of the 1,191 needed for the nomination at the party convention next summer in St. Paul, Minn. There were 256 Republican delegates at stake in the four states on the night’s ballot.
McCain’s sole major remaining rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, had 257 delegates, and posed no threat.
It was McCain’s second run at the nomination, after his loss to George W. Bush in 2000. The Arizona senator was the early front-runner in the GOP race this time, but his campaign nearly imploded last summer. He regrouped, reassuming the underdog role that he relishes, and methodically dispatched one rival after another in a string of primaries in January and early February.