ABC News Bret Hovell and Seiko Hayashi Report: Senator John McCain – while professing his continued respect for his rival for the Republican nomination – said Wednesday it would be easier for him if former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee dropped out.
"I don’t pretend that I wouldn’t like Governor Huckabee not in the race, but I respect his commitment to do so, and his commitment to continuing the race," McCain told reporters in Washington.
"Of course I’d like for him to withdraw today. It would be much easier." he added.
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McCain, R-Ariz., who beat Huckabee in three primary contests on Tuesday, has suffered criticism from many in his own party who question his conservative credentials. Huckabee meanwhile has been racking up support from the party’s base of Christian conservatives.
"[I] understand why many evangelical Christians would vote for Governor Huckabee," McCain explained. "He is a Baptist minister, and I respect that, and I respect his conservative views and his attraction to them."
McCain was asked about his win over Huckabee in Virginia on Tuesday – a race that looked very tight as early returns were coming in, but widened as the night progressed.
"We beat him by nearly 10 percent…" McCain said. "In any election I’ve ever been involved in, a 9 percent cushion is very good."