McCain wins Romney support in US presidential race

February 15th, 2008 - 12:51 pm ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, Feb 15 (IANS) John McCain firmed up his hold on the Republican presidential nomination with former rival Mitt Romney announcing that he is backing the Vietnam war veteran’s bid for the Oval Office. “I am honoured today to give my full support to Senator McCain’s candidacy for the presidency of the United States,” former Massachusetts governor Romney said in a joint news conference in Boston with McCain by his side.

“This is a man capable of leading our country in this dangerous hour,” said Romney after a round of negotiations between their key aides.

One source cited by CNN said Romney wanted to endorse McCain “in the interest of healing”. He wanted to help McCain move faster to “secure the nomination and unite the party for the general election against the Democrats for November”.

Romney will “release” his delegates to McCain, meaning he will encourage them to get behind McCain’s candidacy though they are not bound to do so.

Romney had collected 286 delegates before he suspended his campaign two weeks ago. Those delegates would give McCain 1,013 total delegates, 78 short of securing the nomination.

McCain’s rival for the nomination, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, presently has 217 delegates, leaving him hundreds behind McCain.

Some Republicans worry that the longer Huckabee stays in the race, the harder he makes it for McCain to make amends with sceptical conservatives.

There are “still a lot of Republicans around this country who have yet to vote, many of them who feel like their voices still … (need) to be heard.” Huckabee told CNN. “I owe it the people who got me here.”

Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, has vowed to stay in until a candidate gets the 1,191 delegates needed to seal the nomination.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton’s floundering campaign received a much-needed shot in the arm with the announcement that she has won the Feb 5 party caucuses in New Mexico.

Clinton, the former first lady, edged out rival Barack Obama by about 2,000 votes out of the nearly 150,000 cast, New Mexico Democratic Chairman Brian Colon announced nine days after the contest with counting delayed by a large number of provisional ballots.

The final tally was given as 73,105, or about 49 percent, for Clinton and 71,396, or 48 percent, for Obama.

But Clinton had her share of bad news too with one of the country’s biggest unions - the United Food and Commercial Workers Union - voting Thursday to endorse Obama.

The union, which has more than a million members, is very active in Ohio and Texas - both contests the Clinton campaign is counting on to help her regain momentum in the Democratic presidential race.

It is also very strong in Pennsylvania, another major contest looming on the horizon, and is a major force in voter turnout in all three states.

After losing her frontrunner status among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton has sharpened her attacks on Obama as she faces what even her supporters admit are must-win situations in Texas and Ohio in the weeks ahead.

Accusing Obama of caving in to special interests, Clinton challenged his ability to deliver on his rhetoric. “There’s a big difference between us - speeches versus solutions, talk versus action,” she told supporters in Ohio.

“Speeches don’t put food on the table. Speeches don’t fill up your tank or fill your prescription or do anything about that stack of bills that keeps you up at night.”

Clinton’s aggressive stance was seen as a reaction to Obama’s momentum after he won eight contests in a row - including victories by wide margins in Tuesday’s primaries in Maryland, Virginia and the national capital of Washington, DC.

The wins in the Potomac primaries gave Obama a lead over Clinton in the delegate count for the first time - 1,253 to 1,211. But neither Clinton nor Obama is likely to pick up the 2,025 delegates needed to win the party nomination in the primary season.

The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided by 796 super delegates, which include party officers, elected officials and activists, at the party convention in August.

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