Republicans Crown McCain

This story was written by John Parsons, The Post
Arizona Sen. John McCain, a political maverick and unflinching supporter of the Iraq War, won Ohio's presidential primary and clinched the Republican Party nomination yesterday.

McCain reached the 1,191 minimum delegates needed to win the Republican nomination, completing a comeback with victories in Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont and Texas last night.

Locally, McCain, 71, carried Ohio's 6th District, which includes the city of Athens, with 1,328 votes - about 53 percent of the total votes cast. McCain also won the 18th District with 317 votes - 96 more than his leading rival, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Provisional ballots were not included in either count.

Huckabee withdrew his campaign for the presidential nomination last night after losing races in all four states to McCain. Jarrod Reuter, a member of the Ohio University College Republicans, said he was pleased with the results in Ohio last night.

"(McCain winning the nomination) is good," Reuter said. "I hope we can get the base motivated to rally behind him now."

Although OU College Republicans don't officially endorse political candidates, social chair Lanny Spaulding said the vast majority of the group will rally behind McCain.

"After tonight, the focus shifts to victory in November," Spaulding said.

Republicans have an advantage over Democrats because they have a unified campaign with a clear frontrunner, said Dennis Normile, the political director for College Republicans.

"When you settle on one candidate, you have the opportunity to have a unified message and greater fundraising, and the nominee becomes the figure who represents the party," said Benjamin Bates, an assistant professor in OU's School of Communication Studies.

Huckabee might have stayed in the race until last night to show that he is able to win delegates and that he might be a good candidate for vice president, said Bates, who teaches a class on campaign communication and has done research on presidential debates.

McCain has not yet chosen a running mate for his presidential campaign, but Bates said he is likely to choose someone with more conservative beliefs to offset his moderate political stance.

The Arizona senator's momentum began building eight weeks ago in the snows of New Hampshire with a comeback victory. President Bush invited him to lunch - and an endorsement - at the White House today.

The Arizona senator was the early front-runner in the GOP race, but his campaign nearly imploded last summer. He regrouped, reassuming the underdog role that he relishes, and methodically dispatched one rival after another in a string of primaries in January and early February.

- General Assignment Editor Jessie Balmert and reporter Gail Burkhardt contributed to this story.
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