McCain Clinches Nomination - Huckabee Drops out

Senator John McCain swept all four primaries last night and garnered enough delegates to put him over the top and allow him to clinch the Republican nomination for president:

In a sign that his party was officially rallying around him, Mr. McCain was set to travel to the White House on Wednesday for lunch with President Bush and then a formal endorsement in the Rose Garden.

Grinning broadly, with more color in his face and more pep in his manner than usual, Mr. McCain claimed his party’s mantle in a victory speech at a Dallas hotel about an hour after the polls closed in Texas.

“I have never believed I was destined be president,” Mr. McCain told the crowd. “I don’t believe anyone is predestined to lead America. But I do believe that we were born with responsibilities to the country that has protected our God-given rights and the opportunities they afford us.”

Mr. McCain promised that his campaign would be more than “another tired debate of false promises, empty sound bites, or useless arguments from the past that address not a single of America’s concerns for their family’s security.” Then he vowed, “Let the contest begin.”
McCain's first task will be fence mending. He will reach out to conservatives in an attempt to prod them to embrace his candidacy, portraying himself as an acceptable alternative to the the Democratic nominee.

He will also choose a Vice President. Traditionally, this task occurs closer to the convention. But don't be surprised if McCain, in an attempt to steal some headlines from the Democrats who will be dominating the national media over the next few months, goes ahead and names a running mate sooner rather than later.

It will almost certainly not be Mike Huckabee who dropped out of the race after it became clear McCain had the nomination sewn up:

Mr. Huckabee pledged to throw his support behind Mr. McCain and praised him for the tenor of the race so far. “Senator McCain has run an honorable campaign because he’s an honorable man,” Mr. Huckabee said in a concession speech before a crowd of about 150 people at a hotel in Irving, Tex., outside Dallas. “One of the things I’m proudest of is that the two campaigns that I believe have been run in the most civil manner are the two in the Republican Party that have lasted on their feet to the final.” In his lengthy speech, Mr. Huckabee cited both the fall of the Alamo and the Book of Isaiah.

“What a journey, a journey of a lifetime,” Mr. Huckabee said. “It is not lost on me where I started. The prophet Isaiah said, and I’ve quoted it often, ‘Look to the rock from which you were hewn, the quarry from which you were dug.’ "
In the end, Huckabee's quixotic campaign probably cost him a close look as Vice Presdient.

McCain will kick off his general election campaign the first week in April.