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Final Four – McCain surprises many with Republican lead

By Staff | Feb 8, 2008

If anyone had told you two months ago that John McCain would be the Republican frontrunner, and likely the Republican nominee, you may have questioned that person’s judgment.

Well, he is.

With his Super Tuesday sweep, McCain now leads with 707 delegates compared to 195 for Mike Huckabee and 294 for Mitt Romney who announced Thursday he was dropping out of the race. McCain needs 1,191 delegates to get his party’s nod at St. Paul, Minn., this summer.

“This has been so up and down, up and down,” said Emmet County Republican Chair Deb Satern of the aftermath of Super Tuesday. Satern indicated surprise at how McCain had regrouped and come back to lead the Republican pack.

“I’m really curious as to how he reorganized” both people and finances,” Satern said.

When asked about a McCain/Clinton race, Satern said that outcome could depend in large part on the running mate McCain selects. She doubted that running mate would be either Rudy Giuliani or Mike Huckabee.

Satern sees a big difference between this year’s general election and others in recent memory.

People are realizing we need to get in there and solve some of this stuff,” Satern said, noting that health care, the war against terror, and national security are all issues preying on Americans’ minds.

Voters need to pay attention to the issues because they are affected personally. If the momentum of the primary elections continues, Satern sees a record voter turnout in the November general election.

Iowans, meanwhile, seem to be among the best-educated members of the electorate, Satern said.

The fact that we’re first means we have to make up our minds first,” Satern said. “The candidates are paying more attention to Iowa.

Satern said she wished Romney had stayed in the race longer.

I would have liked to have seen him continue there until the end,” Satern said.

With Romney’s leaving the race, McCain is assured of getting the nomination since Romney led Huckabee in delegates won, 294-195. Romney had continually claimed to be more conservative than McCain.

Romney’s courting conservatives with his campaign of family values, opposition to abortion and gay marriage, and his support for tax cuts and health insurance to benefit the middle-class played well with the traditional religious right.

However, Romney was haunted by charges that he had reversed himself on key issues such as gay rights and abortion rights, both which said he would be a better advocate for than Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1994.

Ironically, when questioned about his Mormon faith, Romney cited the case of a Democrat, former President John F. Kennedy, who was elected in 1960 despite anti-Catholic bias.