Clinton victories in Texas and Ohio give McCain time to craft his message
While the Democrats battle, McCain can see which attacks are effective.
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As for McCain, the Tuesday primaries handed him a majority of the delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination, prompting former Arkansas Gov. Mick Huckabee to abandon his presidential bid and President Bush to give McCain his official endorsement. Despite the president's low approval rating, his endorsement will help unite the party and win over conservatives skeptical of the independent-minded senator, analysts say.Skip to next paragraph
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"John showed incredible courage, strength of character, and perseverance in order to get to this moment, and that's exactly what we need in a president – somebody who can handle the tough decisions, somebody who won't flinch in the face of danger," Mr. Bush said Wednesday, appearing with McCain in the White House Rose Garden.
McCain's return to Washington was a victory lap of sorts after a bruising 16-month Republican presidential primary. He was visiting not only the White House he hopes to occupy but also the Republican National Committee headquarters that he essentially assumes control of now that he's the expected GOP nominee.
Obama's streak ends
With Tuesday's three wins – in Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island – Clinton reversed an 11-contest losing streak. The seven weeks until the next major primary, in Pennsylvania on April 22, buy her ample time to raise money, sharpen attacks on her rival, and convince the elected officials and party leaders known as superdelegates that she is still a contender.
"She's back," Dr. Fowler says of Clinton. "This gives substance to her claim that she wins in populous states like California, and he wins in the little insignificant 'red' states. It just keeps things very confused."
The day offered Clinton a bright spot ahead of another challenging week. Wyoming's Democrats, who caucus on Saturday, vote in the club of red states Obama has dominated. In Mississippi, which votes March 11, more than half the Democratic primary voters are African-American.
Exit polls Tuesday show that nearly 6 in 10 late-deciding voters broke for Clinton, a sign that her increasingly aggressive tactics may be paying off.
Clinton's harder bite
Over the past week, she has pressed Obama to answer more questions about his ties to Chicago real-estate developer Tony Rezko, a former fundraiser who went on trial this week on federal corruption charges.
She highlighted reports that an Obama adviser allegedly assured Canadian diplomats that Obama's opposition to NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement that is reviled in Ohio and some other struggling industrial states – was more political tactic than policy position.