M A I N   N E W S

McCain clinches Rep nomination
Hillary climbs back

Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

John McCain
John McCain. — AFP photo

Arizona Senator John McCain clinched the Republican Party’s presidential nomination on Tuesday night, while Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton kept her campaign alive by winning key states in the primary elections. Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama won easily in Vermont but lost to Clinton in Rhode Island, Texas and Ohio. Clinton’s victory in Rhode Island broke Obama’s streak of 12 straight wins.

Going into Tuesday’s contests, Clinton was under immense pressure to win both Texas and Ohio if she wanted to keep her presidential dreams alive. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton himself dubbed “the comeback kid” for his improbable rise to the White House in 1992, had earlier conceded it was crucial she win both states.

A relieved and jubilant Clinton faced supporters on Tuesday night. “For everyone here in Ohio and across America who’s ever been counted out but refused to be knocked out, for everyone who has stumbled but stood right back up, and for everyone who works hard and never gives up this one is for you,” she said in Columbus, Ohio.

“You know what they say,” she said. “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation. Well, this nation’s coming back and so is this campaign.”

“We’re going on, we’re going strong and we’re going all the way,” Clinton said, adding, “Americans don’t need more promises. They’ve heard plenty of speeches. They deserve solutions and they deserve them now.” Obama congratulated Clinton on her victories, but was determined not to let the night’s losses deflate his campaign. “We know this: No matter what happens tonight, we have nearly the same delegate lead as we had this morning, and we are on our way to winning this nomination,” he told supporters in Texas.

According to an Associated Press count, Obama had a total of 1,466 delegates, including separately chosen party and elected officials known as super delegates. He picked up three super delegate endorsements on Tuesday. Clinton had 1,376 delegates. It takes 2,025 to win the nomination.

In the Republican contests, McCain’s four convincing victories over former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island gave him the required 1,191 delegates required to become his party’s presidential nominee. President George W. Bush will endorse McCain, his rival for the presidential nomination in 2000, at the White House on Wednesday.

McCain, who not long ago had been written off by political pundits, told his supporters he was “very grateful for the broad support you have given our campaign.”

Speaking at a hotel in Dallas, he said, “And I am very pleased to note that tonight, my friends, we have won enough delegates to claim with confidence, humility and a sense of great responsibility that I will be the Republican nominee for President of the USA.”

“The contest begins tonight,” McCain said referring to the battle with either Clinton or Obama in the November presidential election.

McCain’s strong showing prompted Huckabee to quit the race on Tuesday night. An ordained Baptist preacher, Huckabee said it was apparent that McCain would “achieve the 1,191 delegates to become the Republican nominee for our party.”

He said he had called McCain to congratulate him. “I extended to 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 that we can be the best nation we can be, not for ourselves, but for the future generations,” he said.

In his speech, McCain criticised both Obama and Clinton for pledging to take a fresh look at the US trade treaties, punish companies that outsource jobs and withdraw US troops from Iraq.

“The next President must explain how he or she intends to bring that war to the swiftest possible conclusion without exacerbating a sectarian conflict that could quickly descend into genocide, destabilising the entire Middle East,” said McCain.



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