McCain Sees Work Ahead to Win Conservatives
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain says he's very pleased with the big wins in yesterday's Super Tuesday contest. But even though he's now the clear frontrunner in the race for delegates, McCain says he has a lot of work left to do to win over conservatives.
NPR's Scott Horsley reports.
SCOTT HORSLEY: John McCain now has more than half the delegates he needs to lock up the GOP nomination while his Republican rivals lag far behind. Still, a map of yesterday's results suggest the Republican Party is more divided than the delegate totals alone might indicate.
Mitt Romney won a half-dozen states in the West while Mike Huckabee showed solid strength in the South. John McCain has decided not to attend a NATO security meeting in Europe this weekend, which might have served as a kind of victory lap, instead, the Arizona senator is still running hard.
Senator JOHN McCAIN (Republican, Arizona; Presidential Candidate): We'll be hitting the campaign trail tomorrow morning and hopefully we can wrap this thing out, unite the party and be ready to take on the Democratic nominee in November.
HORSLEY: This weekend brings Republican contests in Kansas, Washington State, and Louisiana, followed by primaries Tuesday in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The Kansas and Washington State contests are caucuses. Romney has tended to do well in caucus states.
Tomorrow, both Romney and McCain will address the conservative political action committee in Washington, D.C. McCain has struggled to win support among the most conservative members of his party, many of whom back Romney. McCain says he's confident he can mend fences.
Sen. McCAIN: Do we have a lot of work to do to unite the entire party? Sure. I've been involved in many, many campaigns, and after the campaigns are over, you've always got the task of uniting the party behind the nominee. And I've spent my political career in doing that and I'm confident we will do that with the Republican Party now.
HORSLEY: McCain says he'll be trying to reassure conservatives he shares their principles of low taxes, limited government and strong defense. At the same time, he'll be trying to show independent voters and even Democrats he's willing to reach across the aisle to get things done.
Scott Horsley, NPR News, Phoenix.