McCain beats Romney in Florida; Guiliani quits01/30/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Florida Republican voters handed John McCain a solid 5-point victory last night, giving the Arizona senator momentum as he heads into Super Tuesdayâ€™s 20 plus primaries and caucuses.
The McCain victory has already affected the GOP landscape. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, disappointed by his third-place finish after campaigning for nearly 60 days in the state, announced today that he dropping out of the race and will endorse McCain.
The victory for the sometimes iconoclastic McCain was his first in a closed primary that did not allow independents to vote. Because of his stances on a few high-profile issues, McCain has been criticized by members of his own party. He emphasized his conservative credentials in his victory speech in Miami.
McCainâ€™s forte is national security â€“ not the economy. Thatâ€™s supposed to be the province of his chief rival, Mitt Romney. Yet according to exit polls, voters who say the economy is the most important issue in the country chose McCain.
Last night, McCain continue to hammer home his theory that being strong on defense is the most important quality for a president.
Mitt Romney desperately needed a win in Florida. But at 9:30 last night in the cramped Mirror Lake Lyceum in St. Petersburg, he conceded defeat. But Romney gave no hint he was about to give up his fight for the nomination.
In his concession speech, Romney again emphasized his business credentials as the U.S. economy continues to falter. He also seemed be channeling some of Barack Obamaâ€™s call for change, with 71-year-old McCain as his prime target.