Posted: February 14, 2008 5:32 PM
Romney Backs Former Rival McCain in White House Bid
Former Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney, urged supporters and delegates to back front-runner Sen. John McCain Thursday.
“I’m officially endorsing his candidacy,” Romney said during an appearance with McCain in Boston, calling McCain a “true American hero.”
Romney and McCain sparred often throughout the primary race, calling one another out on immigration and other domestic policy matters. But both men emphasized their common goals Thursday, underplaying their previous disagreements.
“I look forward to campaigning with Gov. Romney and I look forward to his continued, very important leadership role in our party,” McCain said in his acceptance. “We had differences on specific issues, but there was never any doubt about the common goals,” he said.
“Even when the contest was close,” Romney said, “the caliber of the man was apparent.” He added, “Right now, the Democrats are fighting. Let’s come together and make progress while they’re fighting.”
The former governor, who dropped out of the race on Feb. 7 after disappointing results in Super Tuesday contests, accumulated 288 delegates, according to a projected delegate count from the AP.
“Romney made his decision on Thursday, one official said, in hopes of helping McCain get the delegates he needs to secure the Republican Party nod and unite the GOP while Democrats continue to battle for their own nomination,” the Associated Press reported.
The endorsement comes as a slight, if unsurprising, blow to McCain’s competitor, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who was hoping for the support of Romney’s fans.
“As a true authentic, consistent, conservative, I have a vision to bring hope, opportunity and prosperity to all Americans, and I’d like to ask for and welcome the support of those who had previously been committed to Mitt,” he said last week, according to CNN.
Upon hearing of Romney’s endorsement, Huckabee remained undeterred.
“There are still a lot of Republicans in [and] around this country who have yet to vote,” he said in a phone interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer. Commenting on the prospect of Romney’s delegates siding with McCain, he said “We’ve heard all along that they were with Romney because they were splitting with me for the conservative wing of the party.”
While a Huckabee national win is not a complete impossibility, it’s highly unlikely. McCain currently has a wide lead in projected delegates.
“Of the 19 states and territories with Republican primaries remaining, all but one award their delegates proportionally,” Jon Bruner of Forbes reported. “Huckabee is far enough behind in the delegate race that preventing McCain from winning would require a massive surge in his delegate count — a surge that he could only enjoy if he won overwhelming majorities in the states that award their delegates proportionally, such as Wisconsin and Ohio, as well as victory in Vermont, the one state left with a winner-take-all Republican contest.”