USA - VOTE 2008

Romney endorses McCain

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who dropped out of the presidential race last week, has endorsed one-time Republican rival Senator John McCain.


BOSTON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Former Republican presidential
hopeful Mitt Romney endorsed one-time rival John McCain on
Thursday and urged Republicans to unite behind him in a move
that could help McCain with disgruntled conservatives.

In the Democratic race, Sen. Hillary Clinton accused
surging opponent Barack Obama of lacking substance and
experience as she fought for political traction in Ohio after a
string of losses.

After a rough campaign battle between them to be the
party's nominee in November's election, Romney set aside his
differences and offered conciliatory language to McCain a week
after dropping out of the race, calling him an American hero.

"Even when the contest was close and our disagreements were
debated, the caliber of the man was apparent," Romney said with
McCain at his side. "This is a man capable of leading our
country at a dangerous hour."

McCain said it was a hard campaign but "now we move forward
together for the good of our party and our nation."

"We had differences on specific issues, but there was never
any doubt about the common philosophy and principles and
dedication to the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt
and Ronald Reagan that we share," he said.

Romney, 61, and McCain, 71, had battled bitterly over who
was the real conservative in the race, culminating in a caustic
debate in California on Jan. 30.

But all that was set aside when the two men got together in
Boston for a formal endorsement ceremony, a move intended to
encourage Republican conservatives long distrustful of McCain
to unite behind the all-but-certain nominee.

"I still have my views, the senator has his views, but as a
party we come together," Romney said. "We can't possibly
incorporate all views of all Republicans into one individual,
because we have differing views."

If all of Romney's 282 delegates were added to McCain's
822, it would give McCain 1,104 and put him within easy reach
of the 1,191 needed for nomination, although Romney's delegates
are not necessarily bound by his recommendations.

Conservatives consider McCain a turncoat for his moderate
views on illegal immigration and for having originally voted
against President George W. Bush's tax cuts, and persuading
them to generate voter turnout for him in the November election
will be a central challenge.

McCain still faces opposition from former Arkansas Gov.
Mike Huckabee, who has picked up the support of some
conservatives who had been backing Romney.


While Republicans were busily trying to unite, Clinton was
trying to stop Obama's wave of momentum.

Brandishing a pair of blue boxing gloves given to her at a
General Motors automobile plant, Clinton portrayed herself as a
fighter and Obama as someone who makes a lot of speeches that
sound good but do not offer solutions.

"That's the difference between me and my opponent. My
opponent makes speeches. I offer solutions. It is one thing to
get people excited. I want to empower you," the New York
senator said.

Clinton, the one-time front-runner for her party's
nomination who now finds herself in political peril,
intensified her attack as she was forced to scramble for
sweeping victories in Ohio and Texas on March 4 and in
Pennsylvania on April 22.

She focused on an area that some Democratic strategists say
is a weak spot for Illinois Sen. Obama -- his tendency to give
uplifting, inspirational speeches that offer little in the way
of specifics about how he would lead the United States if

The rhetoric comes days after Clinton shook up the top
level of her campaign staff and is attempting to re-energize
her White House bid, as Obama rides a wave of momentum from a
winning streak that reached eight states in a row on Tuesday.

A new poll showed that at this point, she is in a strong
position in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The Quinnipiac University poll said she leads Obama 55
percent to 34 percent among likely Democratic voters in Ohio,
and 52 percent to 36 percent in Pennsylvania.

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