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.
"We thought if we finished in the top four or five we'd feel pretty good about that," Huckabee said in his concession speech. "Tonight, you've given us so much more than we could have imagined just a few weeks ago."
Rudolph Giuliani and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, each received about nine and eight percent of the Republincan votes in New Hampshire respectively.
Huckabee and McCain swapped places since Iowa, where McCain placed third, and Huckabee won.
After his campaign nearly imploded this summer, a cash-strapped but no-less-determined McCain focused his attention on this small but influential state's independent voters, who propelled him to victory in 2000.
Moderates, independents and late deciders were crucial for McCain, and he was boosted by a large advantage on the personal qualities of leadership, experience and straight-talking.
McCain won independents by 11 points over Romney, 38 to 27 percent, while they split mainline Republicans about evenly, 34 to 33.
Among voters who decided in the past three days (including today) -- 38 percent of the total -- McCain won by 40 to 29 percent.
Amid clear skies and unseasonably warm temperatures, voters turned out in record droves today, prompting the secretary of state to order more ballots and ratcheting up the heat in an already hotly contested primary. Some 23 percent of eligible voters cast ballots for a Republican. Twenty-eight percent voted for a Democrat.
At 71 years old, if McCain were to win the general election, he would be the oldest president ever inaugurated. Despite his age, the senator found support among the young independent voters in New Hampshire, a state divided almost evenly between Democrats and Republicans but lacking the social conservatives that carried former Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas to victory in Iowa last week.
The economy was the most-cited concern among Republican voters, mentioned by three in 10. A quarter of voters cited the war in Iraq, and about two in 10 said either immigration or terrorism are key concerns, according to preliminary exit polling. Three in 10 Republican voters said former Gov. Mitt Romney "ran the most unfair campaign" versus about one in 10 who said the same about Huckabee and McCain alike.
Seen as a maverick within his own party, the Arizona senator's positions on national security, low taxes and global warming resonated with the independent-minded voters of New Hampshire. The positive turn in the Iraq War, a proposition McCain has long endorsed, may also have helped him among conservative voters.
McCain's next big test will be the Michigan primary a week from Tuesday; however, Romney, the son of a former Michigan governor and a native son, has led in the polls there for months.
But McCain's people said recent polls have shown McCain moving into a tie with Romney in Michigan, and that's before he can take advantage of his New Hampshire momentum.
A McCain adviser told ABC News' Ron Claiborne that the campaign is getting unexpected help from Huckabee who is making his own push in Michigan, which McCain believes will siphon off support for Romney particularly in Western Michigan, which, he says, has a large number of evangelical conservatives and home-schoolers.
With the winds of New Hampshire behind him, McCain's challenge now becomes fundraising, proving to the contributors who abandoned him over the summer that he has a real shot at victory.
If McCain can defeat Romney in Michigan, that could effectively spell the end for Romney despite his enormous war chest.
The primary came just five days after the surprise shakeups in both parties following the Iowa caucus, in which former Govs. Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney placed first and second, respectively.
"If I come in a second-place finish, that will actually say that I am clearly one of the leading contenders," Romney told the Concord Monitor Monday. "I will have come in second in Iowa, first in Wyoming, second in New Hampshire. That will mean that I probably have more votes than anybody else in those first three states."
The first tabulated votes of the day foretold big things for McCain, giving credence to his recently unveiled slogan "The Mac Is Back." Votes were tallied at the state's first and smallest polling station in the town of Dixville Notch, with 17 registered voters, just after midnight Tuesday.
Republican voters in Dixville Notch gave the majority of their votes, all four of them, to McCain.
"And after a landslide victory last night in Dixville Notch -- 4 to 2 [for Romney] -- there's no way you can stop this momentum," he said.
At least one candidate who had no realistic shot of a strong New Hampshire finish chose to spend the day in South Carolina instead, where the GOP primary will be held Jan. 19. Former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee told a crowd in Greenville, S.C., that he wasn't competing in New Hampshire.
At a hotel in Manchester, N.H., Rudy Giuliani congratulated the winner and called the race "wide opened" and said he was looking forward to competing in populous states like Florida, New York, New Jersey and California. After his concession, the former New York City mayor boarded a plane for Florida.
Rick Klein, Karen Travers, John Berman, Ron Claiborne, Bret Hovell and Gary Langer contributed to this report.