Republican John McCain won the most delegates and states, including California, on Super Tuesday, dealing a serious blow to rival Mitt Romney’s struggling campaign.
Romney planned to huddle today with senior advisers for “frank discussions” about the future of his campaign, although he did not cancel a speech scheduled for Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Committee in Washington, D.C.
“This campaign is looking forward and planning our speech at CPAC and our ongoing effort towards the nomination,” Romney spokesman Kevin Madden told The Examiner.
Fellow Republican Mike Huckabee also vowed to fight on after turning in a surprisingly strong performance Tuesday.
But McCain was the big winner in states that stretched from coast to coast. He won Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma and Missouri. But it was his victory in California, the biggest prize of all, that deflated Romney.
“Although I’ve never minded the role of the underdog — and have relished as much as anyone come-from-behind wins — tonight I think we must get used to the idea that we are the Republican Party front-runner for the nomination of president of the United States,” McCain told supporters in Arizona.
McCain gave his speech before the California results were announced. So did Romney, who had been counting on a win here to keep his lackluster campaign alive. Romney did win Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Utah.
“There are some people who thought it was all going be done tonight, but it’s not all done tonight,” Romney told supporters in Massachusetts. “We’re going to keep on battling. We’re going to go all the way to the convention. We’re going to win this thing.”
Huckabee won his home state of Arkansas, as well as Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and West Virginia. He appeared to take delight in disproving naysayers who predicted Super Tuesday would be his political swan song.
“So many people said you can’t get there,” he told an audience in Arkansas. “And tonight we’re proving that we’re still on our feet.”