Sunday, February 10, 2008

Despite the Tough Talk

On the Republican side, Mr. McCain hit a unsettling bump in the road to his near-certain nomination. The victories by Mr. Huckabee, a populist ordained Southern Baptist minister, raised questions about Mr. McCain's ability to bring religious conservative voters to his side for the general election. Turnout was low among Republicans, and many of those who did show up were party-faithful religious conservatives. The wins give Mr. Huckabee renewed energy going into Tuesday's primaries, which had been seen to favor Mr. McCain.

With 100% of precincts reporting, Mr. Huckabee won the Kansas caucus with 60% of the vote to Mr. McCain's 20%. Texas congressman Ron Paul received 11%. In Louisiana, the vote was tight. Mr. Huckabee had 43% to Mr. McCain's 42%, with 99% reporting.

"It was an important victory, especially after the pundits spent the past few days saying this campaign is over," said Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman after the victory in Kansas. Despite the tough talk, it's mathematically unlikely that Mr. Huckabee could catch Mr. McCain. After Mr. Huckabee's Kansas win he had a total of 234 delegates, compared with Mr. McCain's 719, according to the Associated Press. A candidate needs 1,191 delegates to secure the Republican nomination.

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