With the winds of his New Hampshire primary victory behind him, and with enough confidence and treasure to afford the first interstate flight of his campaign, Sen. John McCain quickly flew to Michigan today to lay the groundwork for next week's primary.
"We had a great victory yesterday in the state of New Hampshire," McCain, R-Ariz., told a packed hangar at this western Michigan airport. "The next victory has got to be right here in the state of Michigan."
At first light Wednesday, staffers and press boarded a chartered Boeing 737 for the flight to Michigan, the first plane provided by the campaign since McCain announced his candidacy April of 2007.
McCain's stiffest competition in Michigan will come from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who placed second in Tuesday's primary and is the son of a former Michigan governor.
With two-second place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, the Romney campaign needs a gold in Michigan. Already, the campaign is diverting funds from later primaries and investing them in the Wolverine State.
"Resources are being reallocated as we head into Michigan," Eric Fehrnstrom, a Romney spokesman told ABC News.
In a stunning turnaround Tuesday, McCain,won the New Hampshire Republican primary, just months after his campaign was written off as all but dead.
The rebounding senator and his exuberant staff immediately began planning for what they hope will be a knockout punch against Romney in the Michigan primary next week.
"I am past the age when I can claim the noun 'kid,' no matter what adjective precedes it," McCain told a roomful of supporters in Nashua, N.H. "But tonight, we sure showed them what a comeback looks like.
"My friends, when the pundits declared us finished, I told them, 'I'm going to New Hampshire, where the voters don't let you make their decision for them.' And when they asked, 'How are you going to do it? You're down in the polls. You don't have the money.' I answered, 'I'm going to New Hampshire, and I'm going to tell people the truth.,
"When pundits declared I'm finished, I told them I'm going to New Hampshire ... and I'm going to tell people the truth," he said.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, McCain had received 37 percent of the Republican tally. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney trailed with 31 percent and Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, winner of the Iowa caucuses, took 11 percent.
After initial projections were announced, one Romney adviser told ABC News, "It's over." When asked what led to McCain's victory, he attributed it to the Arizona senator's "authenticity."
Voters seemed to agree with that assessment. Some 49 percent of Republican voters said they chose McCain because he "says what he believes." Just 13 percent could say the same for Romney.
Romney, Huckabee and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani each called McCain to congratulate him on his win.
By the next morning, however, the Romney staff had their game faces back on and were ready to continue the fight.
When asked by ABC News' John Berman whether Romney would stay in the race until Michigan on Jan. 15, one strategist wrote back, "If I could sing the Michigan fight song over the Internet I would."
"We still have a great shot at winning this. And we have more delegates than anyone else at this point," said someone close to Romney.
Huckabee was also planning to stick around.