After a disappointing finish behind the leaders, CBS News confirms that former New York mayor is expected to drop out of the race Wednesday in Los Angeles and will endorse McCain at a joint apperance at 6 p.m. ET. ( )
Democrat also Wednesday with an announcement in New Orleans.
With all precincts reporting, McCain got 36 percent and Romney got 31 percent of the vote. Giuliani got 15 percent in the state he staked his campaign on and former Arkansas governor got 14 percent. Texas Rep. was far behind with three percent.
For Republicans the contest offers the state's 57 delegates to this summer's Republican national convention and a big burst of energy in the weeklong sprint to Super Tuesday. A total of 1,191 delegates are needed to secure the Republican nomination.
"It shows one thing. I'm the conservative leader who can unite the party," McCain said after the win in the hard-fought contest. (
"It's a very significant boost, but I think we've got a tough week ahead and a lot of states to come," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
According to CBS News exit polls, McCain's Florida coalition was made up of voters he has counted on many times before - party mavericks. He received substantial support from groups like independents, seculars, pro-choice voters, and those Republicans dissatisfied with the Bush administration. Voters' economic concerns also helped propel him to a win. ( )
"It may not have been a landslide for Senator McCain," said CBSNews.com senior political editor Vaughn Ververs, "but it was a big win that thrusts him into the driver's seat in this race. McCain becomes the first candidate in either party to win back-to-back victories in big, contested contests. That he finally won one in a Republican-only primary is sweet icing on the cake for a candidate with vocal critics in his own party."
Giuliani ran third, his best showing of the campaign but not nearly good enough for the one-time front-runner who decided to make his last stand in a state that is home to tens of thousands of transplanted New Yorkers.
In remarks to supporters in Orlando, the former New York mayor referred to his candidacy repeatedly in the past tense - as though it were over. "We'll stay involved and together we'll make sure that we'll do everything we can to hand our nation off to the next generation better than it was before," he said. (
Later, CBS News confirmed he is expected to drop out of the race Wednesday.
Romney, who has spent millions of dollars of his personal fortune to run for the White House, vowed to stay in the race.
"At a time like this, America needs a president in the White House who has actually had a job in the real economy," he told supporters in St. Petersburg. (
Romney ran 4,475 television commercials in Florida through the last week to McCain's 470, reports CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer.
Appearing on CBS' The Early Show the morning after his second-place finish, Romney said he thought Giuliani's expected endorsement of McCain could end up benefiting him more than the Arizona senator.
"I respect the fact that the mayor wants to endorse somebody who he long ago said he favored," Romney said. "But I think Rudy Giuliani voters are going to want somebody who's run something and has shown a level of competence in doing so. And I think you're going to see that some of those votes will go to McCain but some will stay with me. And I think it's hard for a candidate to actually direct voters as to where they go next. I think they make their own mind up."
Florida marked the end of one phase of the campaign, the last in a series of single-state contests.
The campaign goes national next week, with 21 states holding primaries and caucuses on Tuesday and 1,023 party convention delegates at stake.
"A friendly landscape in the upcoming Super Tuesday states must have the McCain campaign smiling tonight," CBSNews.com's Ververs added. "But Mitt Romney's deep pockets and formidable campaign machine can't be discounted. This is still a two-person contest, with 'contest' being the operative word." ( )