McCain certain to be Republican Presidential nominee

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Washington, Feb 8: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has suspended his presidential campaign, allowing Republican frontrunner Senator John McCain to be the party's nominee for the White House, even as the Democratic race locked in a virtual tie between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

In primaries and caucuses, Obama won more states than Clinton, but the former first lady captured larger states like California, New York and New Jersey, with higher number of delegates. Clinton and Obama are looking ahead to contests tomorrow in Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington State, and February 12 primaries in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC.

If none of them secures the support of 2,025 delegates, required to lock the nomination before the party's convention in August, the 796 'super-delegates' would be decisive. The super-delegates include all Democratic members of Congress and former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and former vice president Al Gore.

Earlier, addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference here yesterday, former Governor Romney said, ''If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win.'' Romney did not formally endorse McCain. But he did say that although he and McCain disagree on many issues, they agree on doing whatever it takes to win in Iraq and in the war on terror.

He said their Democratic opponents, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want to 'retreat' from Iraq and the war on terror.

Republicans use a winner-take-all system in awarding delegates for the nomination in most states. Arizona Senator McCain emerged from Super Tuesday as his party's clear frontrunner, with 707 of the more than 1,000 delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Romney has 294 delegates, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has 195 and Texas Congressman Ron Paul has 14. Huckabee and Paul are still in the race.

McCain and Romney spoke by phone after Romney's speech. But, shortly after Romney's speech, former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman endorsed McCain and urged all members of the party to back him.

UNI

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