McCain Takes Republican Primary In Close Win Over Huckabee

This story was written by Michael Baumann, The Daily Gamecock
Updated at 9:38 p.m.-Arizona Sen. John McCain is projected to win the South Carolina Republican primary, with 33 percent of the vote, holding about an 14,000-vote lead over former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

National leader Mitt Romney is fourth, behind McCain, Huckabee and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson. Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani follow, with four and two percent of the vote, respectively.

McCain's last bid for the White House famously lost traction after he lost an ugly primary here in 2000. McCain is in Charleston with supporters this evening.

Thompson visited the Russell House ballroom around 8 this evening, speaking for about 10 minutes before heading out.

Paul, who finished a surprising second in Nevada caucus, spoke to supporters at the Radisson hotel.

Jesse Benton, communications director for the Ron Paul campaign, said he has mentioned The Daily Gamecock endorsement in every one of his speeches since it was published.

"Ron is so thrilled when ever young people discuss the ideas he is putting out, it really charges his batteries," Benton said.

Huckabee spoke to supporters earlier tonight at the Columbia Convention Center and conceded the primary around 9:30 p.m.

Once he took the stage, Huckabee thanked everyone. Former governor David Beasley and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer were in attendance.

"I called McCain and offered him congratulations and told him I would rather have him calling me to congratulate me," he said.

Huckabee said he was appreciative that McCain ran a campaign with civility but had hoped for a different outcome.

"We got awful close," he said. "This is not an event; it's a process. The process is far far from over."

Sean Gruber and Katie Jones contributed to this report.

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