Topping the list of ecstatic Republicans is McCain, who couldn't have chosen a better night to seal the nomination. He immediately turned his focus to Iraq -- everyone ready for another national-security election?
Said McCain: "Now, we begin the most important part of our campaign: to make a respectful, determined and convincing case to the American people that our campaign and my election as president, given the alternatives presented by our friends in the other party, are in the best interests of the country we love."
The Republican National Committee is set to follow the president's announcement with an official declaration of its own. And this statement is coming Wednesday from House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.: "Republicans in Congress are united behind Senator John McCain for President of the United States. Yesterday's results prove once again that voters share the same values that have guided McCain during his distinguished career in public service, including his opposition to wasteful Washington spending and his commitment to keeping America strong and secure."
Signs of party unity are only the beginning of what McCain has won. "Beyond the victory itself, the spoils of Mr. McCain's triumph are a pair of precious political commodities: money and time," Dave Levinthal writes in The Dallas Morning News. "And if time indeed heals all wounds, Mr. McCain will take all he can get."
He has all the time he needs to regroup. "Already, Sen. McCain and his aides were plotting an aggressive electoral strategy including plans to campaign in the Democratic stronghold of California, the largest prize in the Electoral College," Laura Meckler writes in The Wall Street Journal. "At the same time, the campaign was planning a series of policy speeches to flesh out his views, and preparing to take control of the Republican National Committee and its vast resources."
But the time will evaporate: "There are three things McCain must do that won't be easy," Fred Barnes writes in The Weekly Standard. "The most important is to bring Barack Obama down to earth from his pedestal in the heavens. He's still the likely Democratic nominee, after all, despite Hillary Clinton's primary wins yesterday. And he's mostly gotten away with campaigning as if he's on a mission to purify America, not merely running to capture the presidency."
Time's Michael Scherer answers his own question: "McCain: Luckiest Nominee on Earth?"
Former governor Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., exits stage right -- missing his cue, yes, but probably not by so much that he can't get a call-back. "There is no doubt the longshot-turned-contender left his mark on the GOP race," ABC's Kevin Chupka and Nitya Venkataraman write. "Huckabee's brand of social conservatism, combined with his strong core support among evangelicals, and a frugal campaign budget, left party rivals scrambling to defend their conservative credentials."
Said Huckabee: "We kept the faith -- that for me has been the most important goal of all."
Does anyone think he's gone from the scene? "Me, personally, I'm looking at 2012, 2016," one supporter tells The New York Times' Leslie Wayne.
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