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McCain beats Romney to win Fla. primary, Giuliani may endrose McCain

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/florida_republicans;_ylt=AhxcLNof8uM5dOM_pAWig5Gs0NUE BREAKING NEWS: Giuliani in discussions over possible McCain endorsement, AP
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 29, 2008


      Giuliani in discussions over possible McCain
      endorsement, AP reports. (AP)

      McCain beats Romney to win Fla. primary

      By DAVID ESPO and LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writers
      1 minute ago

      MIAMI - Sen. John McCain won a breakthrough triumph in
      the Florida Republican primary Tuesday night, edging
      past former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and seizing
      precious campaign momentum for next week's string of
      contests across 21 states.

      Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was running third,
      and headed for the exits. Officials familiar with
      events said his aides were in discussions with
      McCain's advisers on a possible endorsement later in
      the week.

      "It shows one thing. I'm the conservative leader who
      can unite the party," McCain said in a brief interview
      with The Associated Press.

      "It's a very significant boost but I think we've got a
      tough week ahead and a lot of states to come."

      The victory was worth 57 national convention delegates
      for McCain, a winner-take-all's haul and the largest
      single prize to date in the race.

      Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee trailed, but told
      supporters he would campaign on. Texas Rep. Ron Paul
      was fifth, and last.

      Returns from 64 percent of the state's precincts
      showed McCain, the Arizona senator, with 36 percent of
      the vote and Romney, the former governor of
      Massachusetts, with 31 percent.

      McCain's victory was his first-ever primary win in a
      state that allowed only Republicans to vote. His
      previous victories, in New Hampshire and South
      Carolina this year, and in two states in 2000 came in
      elections open to independents. He campaigned with the
      support of the state's two top Republican elected
      officials, Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez.

      Romney's only primary win so far was in Michigan, a
      state where he grew up and claimed a home-field
      advantage. He also has caucus victories to his credit
      in Wyoming and Nevada.

      A survey of voters as they left their polling places
      showed the economy was the top issue for nearly half
      the Republican electorate. McCain led his rival among
      those voters, blunting Romney's weeklong effort to
      persuade Floridians that his background as a
      businessman made him best-suited for heading off a

      McCain also was benefiting from the support of
      self-described moderates, as well as older voters and
      Hispanics. Giuliani ran second among Latino voters,
      according to preliminary exit poll data.

      Romney was favored by voters opposed to abortion and
      to easing the path to citizenship for illegal

      About 40 percent of self-described conservatives
      supported him, as well, compared to about 25 percent
      for McCain.

      The poll was conducted by Edison Media Research and
      Mitofsky International for The Associated Press and
      the television networks.

      Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Democratic race,
      an event that drew no campaigning by any of the
      contenders — and awarded no delegates to the winner.

      The Democratic primary was controversial by its very
      existence, an act of defiance against national party
      officials who wanted it held later in the year.

      Even so, Clinton sought to emphasize her performance
      in the state, holding a rally as the polls were

      She challenged Barack Obama to agree to seat the
      delegates on the basis of the night's vote, but he
      demurred, saying he would abide by an agreement all
      Democratic candidates had made months ago.

      "Those decisions will be made after the nomination,
      not before," Obama told reporters Tuesday on a plane
      from Washington to Kansas. "Obviously, I care a lot
      about the people in Michigan and a lot about the
      people in Florida. And I want their votes in the
      general election. We'll be actively campaigning for

      Romney began the evening with 59 Republican delegates,
      to 36 for McCain and 40 for Huckabee. Giuliani had

      No matter the winner, there was no time to rest. There
      are 21 GOP contests on the ballot on Feb. 5, with
      1,023 delegates at stake.

      McCain and Romney clashed early and often, in personal
      appearances and paid television advertising, in a
      bruising week of campaigning in Florida.

      Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said his
      career as a private businessman made him perfectly
      suited to sit in the Oval Office with a recession
      looming. Sen. McCain argued he knew his economics well
      enough, and that his career in the military and in
      Congress made him the man to steer the country in an
      age of terrorism.

      By the campaign's final hours, the two men hurled
      insults at one another, each saying the other hoped to
      travel a liberal road to the presidential nomination
      in a party of conservatives.

      Romney attacked McCain for his signature legislation
      to reduce the role of money in politics, for his
      position on immigration and for his support of an
      energy bill that he said would have driven up consumer

      "If you ask people, 'look at the three things Senator
      McCain has done as a senator,' if you want that kind
      of a liberal Democrat course as president, then you
      can vote for him," Romney told campaign workers. "But
      those three pieces of legislation, those aren't
      conservative, those aren't Republican, those are not
      the kind of leadership that we need as we go forward."

      McCain had a ready reply. "On every one of the issues
      he has attacked us on, Mitt Romney was for it before
      he was against it," he said. "The truth is, Mitt
      Romney was a liberal governor of Massachusetts who
      raised taxes, imposed with Ted Kennedy a big
      government mandate health care plan that is now a
      quarter of a billion dollars in the red, and managed
      his state's economy incompetently, leaving
      Massachusetts with less job growth than 46 other

      That wasn't all, either.

      McCain aired radio commercials criticizing Romney, and
      his campaign Web site has an ad superimposing Romney's
      face on the image of a windsurfing Sen. John Kerry,
      the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.

      The Romney campaign also reported numerous negative
      phone calls, accusing him incorrectly of supporting
      taxpayer-funded abortions, opposing President Bush's
      tax cuts and favoring direct talks with Cuban leader
      Fidel Castro.

      The McCain campaign said it was not responsible for
      the calls.
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