The Republican winner of the New Hampshire primary is hoping to build on his success.
Just 13 hours after declaring victory in the primary, Arizona Sen. John McCain took his revitalized campaign to Michigan before he heads on to South Carolina. The two states hold presidential nominating contests in the next 10 days.
McCain started his Michigan trip with a boisterous airport rally in Grand Rapids, complete with confetti and red, white and blue streamers. He hopes that momentum will carry him forward during a flurry of nominating contests over the next week and a half.
"The next victory has got to be right here in Michigan. We won New Hampshire. We'll win Michigan. We'll win South Carolina. We will win the nomination. And I'll be the next president of the United States — with your help," McCain said as supporters applauded.
McCain won the Michigan primary eight years ago. But Republican rival and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has strong family ties to the state: He grew up there, and his father was a popular three-term governor.
Romney suffered a disappointing second-place finish in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, but the multi-millionaire former businessman repeated the pledge he made after Iowa: to keep going.
"I'm going to keep on battling with the resources that we have," he said. "I've raised more money than any other Republican in the race. And we intend to use our financial resources, raised from our contributors and myself, to make sure we have a campaign that goes the distance."
McCain and Romney's Michigan Strategies
Romney has tried to paint McCain as a Washington insider, ill-prepared to bring the kind of change many voters seem to be seeking. In New Hampshire, though, the 71-year-old McCain managed to score points for experience, without being burdened by his Washington, D.C., credentials.
"I didn't go to Washington to go along to get along. Or to play it safe or serve my own interests. I went there to serve my country. That, my friends, is just what I intend to do if I am privileged enough to be elected your president," McCain said.
In Michigan, McCain is stressing the economy, along with national security. Exit polls in New Hampshire show McCain did well with voters who think the economy is in trouble, and Michigan has been hard-hit by job losses in the manufacturing sector.
"Now, my friends, the reason why I just won that election yesterday in New Hampshire is I went to the people of New Hampshire to tell 'em the truth. Sometimes I told them what they wanted to know. And sometimes I told them what they didn't want to know. And I've got to give you some straight talk. My friends, some of the jobs that have left the state of Michigan are not coming back," he said.
McCain promised to create a job-retraining program centered around community colleges, to replace existing federal programs that he says do not work.
After Michigan, South Carolina
Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee will also be campaigning in Michigan, but he's likely to be a more formidable candidate in South Carolina. Evangelical Christians are a significant political force there, as they were in Iowa.
Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham expects that voters in his state will also respond well to McCain's military background and his support for the war in Iraq. But Graham said Tuesday night that none of that would have mattered, had McCain not won in New Hampshire.
"This win put him back in the viability category. That was what was missing. People like John — his experience, his message. But he had to prove to them after July that he was viable. He did it tonight," Graham said.
Aides say McCain's win in New Hampshire has also given a boost to his fundraising — a welcome relief for a campaign that was virtually broke six months ago.
McCain is now running TV ads in both Michigan and South Carolina. The candidate who could barely afford a tour bus last summer now has a chartered 737, paid for through Super Duper Tuesday, Feb. 5.