Senator John McCain, a one-time insurgent whose campaign was all but dead seven months ago, locked up the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday night after he defeated former Governor Mike Huckabee in the Texas and Ohio Republican primary and Huckabee conceded the race to McCain.
Although McCain had been far ahead in the delegate count and been bestowed with the unofficial title of “likely Republican nominee” since his string of victories on Feb. 5, Tuesday’s results put him within reach of the 1,191 delegates he needs for the nomination. McCain also won the Vermont and Rhode Island primaries.
The Associated Press and television networks projected that McCain won enough delegates to clinch the nomination, but The New York Times has him still short of the mark.
In a sign that his party is now officially rallying around him, McCain will travel to the White House on Wednesday morning for a formal endorsement by President George W. Bush, a Republican official said Tuesday night. Huckabee said he called McCain to concede and offer his support.
“It looks pretty apparent tonight that he will in fact achieve 1191 delegates to become the nominee for our party,” Huckabee said. “I extended him not only my congratulations, but my commitment to him and to the party to do everything possible to unite our party, but more importantly to unite our country so we can be the best nation we can be.”