Background: Battling It Out
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RAY SUAREZ: Texas Governor George W. Bush moved closer to securing his party’s nomination last night, losing just four of Super Tuesday’s 13 Republican primaries. He spoke to reporters today.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Good morning, everybody. I took a large step toward becoming the nominee last night. I’m really pleased with the results. I had a good conversation with Senator McCain. I appreciate very much his phone call. John is going to decide whether he continues on. It’s his choice to do so. I know I’m continuing on, and then we’ll resolve any differences we have at a later date. I hope… I’m confident we’ll be able to do so. He waged a good campaign. He was a tough competitor.
RAY SUAREZ: In the 13 Super Tuesday Republican primaries last night, Senator McCain did well in New England, winning primaries in Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. But it was Governor Bush who came out the winner, pulling in the majority, including Georgia, Ohio, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Minnesota, Washington State and the big prize, California.
In all, Governor Bush won 446 delegates on Super Tuesday, giving him a total of 661 delegates to date. Senator McCain’s 114 delegates from last night brings his delegate count to 219; 1,034 are needed for the Republican nomination.
This morning, the Governor turned his attention to the campaign ahead.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: In terms of Vice President Gore’s statement last night… he said a lot of things last night, including getting rid of soft money. The first thing he needs to do is debate Bill Clinton on soft money. It was just last week that Bill Clinton was bragging about how much soft money he had raised. This is an old rouse, it seems like to me. It’s an attempt to divert the attention of America away from what has been going on in Washington, D.C. for seven years. As I said last night, I’ll be glad to ban soft money, I’d be glad to work with Vice President Gore to getting rid of soft money so long as there’s paycheck protection. If Vice President Gore is serious about ridding our system of soft money, then he needs to work with me to say that people who are members of the unions ought to be allowed to decide whether their money gets spent on campaigns or causes. As to debates, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of debates. I look forward to them.
RAY SUAREZ: Unlike his rival, Senator McCain stayed out of the spotlight today. He flew from California to his ranch in Arizona.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I’m glad to be home. I’m glad to have the opportunity to spend some time with our friends and evaluate the situation and then we’ll be making decisions as to what we will do concerning the campaign and exactly how we’ll do it. I’m glad to be home.
RAY SUAREZ: But at his rally last night, the senator assured his supporters he will continue the fight.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Our crusade continues tonight, tomorrow, the next day, the day after that, and for as long as it takes to restore America’s confidence and pride in the practice and institutions of our great democracy. (Cheers and applause) As is evident by the great numbers of voters who have rallied to our banner, so many of whom have been disaffected by politics in recent times, America needs and wants a thorough reform of the way we conduct our nation’s business. (Applause) And the Republican Party… the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan, needs to recover its purpose to be as big as the country we serve. That’s the purpose of our campaign. And as I said, I have no intention of ever surrendering it. (Cheers and applause)