Romney Aside, McCain Takes The Nomination

At least, that’s my assessment of it. Unless Huckabee or Paul make a ridiculous comeback, John McCain is all but certain for the Republican nomination.

Here’s the story on McCain’s ascension from MyWay:

WASHINGTON (AP) – John McCain sought to mend his tattered relationship with conservatives and unify a splintered GOP as he all but clinched the party’s presidential nomination Thursday. Mitt Romney, his former chief rival, dropped out, and a parade of prominent Republicans swung behind the Arizona senator.

“We’re continuing campaigning and not taking anything for granted,” McCain said in an Associated Press interview, still reluctant to call himself anything more than the front-runner. “I certainly think that we have enhanced our chances.”

Only Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul remained in what has been a crowded and wide-open nomination fight for the past year. Both have narrow voting constituencies and are far behind in the hunt for delegates to the GOP’s nominating convention this summer.

Romney’s departure left McCain, whose independent streak rankles many in the Republican rank-and-file, poised to assume President Bush’s position as the party standard-bearer. It was a remarkable turnaround for McCain, whose campaign was barely alive last summer, out of cash and losing staff.

In the spirit of reconnecting with the Republican conservative base, McCain spoke today at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. Below is the entire video of McCain’s speech:

The general reaction seems to be that he made a good effort, but he can’t erase the reasons why conservatives are sort of ticked at him. Here’s a report on it from CNN:

(CNN) — Sen. John McCain Thursday told a conservative-rich audience that he has what it takes to unite the Republican party.

“I know I have a responsibility, if I am, as I hope to be, the Republican nominee for president, to unite the party and prepare for the great contest in November,” McCain told the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Critics say he’s too liberal to carry his party’s nomination. Conservatives point to him breaking with the party on immigration, opposing the Bush tax cuts and co-sponsoring legislation on campaign finance reform.

The meeting is the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservative activists, students and policymakers, according to CPAC.

The speech came just hours after McCain’s chief rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, announced he was suspending his campaign.

McCain congratulated Romney for an “energetic and dedicated campaign” and also praised former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for his Super Tuesday wins.

This will be major topic of discussion tonight on You Decide Politics Radio at 10pm eastern, 7pm pacific. Join the discussion, check that link to listen live and call in to the show.