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Giuliani Abandons White House Run, Endorses McCain

John McCain (R-AZ) and his wife Cindy (R) smile as his former rival former New York mayor Rudy Guiliani (L) endorses him before the CNN/Los Angeles Times Republican presidential debate at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, January 30, 2008. (Reuters).

By Michael D. Shear
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. -- Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president Wednesday, ending his own White House bid and calling his one-time rival the best man to keep the nation secure and prosperous.

Just hours before a nationally-televised debate here at Ronald Reagaon's library and burial site, Giuliani officially withdrew from the hunt for the Republican nomination after a year-long quest that for a time defied expectations and conventional wisdom.

But in the end, Giuliani's attempt to buck his party's orthodoxies and challenge the historical precedents of nomination battles proved too difficult. He closed the book on his campaign after losing election contests in seven straight states.

"John McCain is the most qualified candidate to be the next commander in chief of the United States," Giuliani said after officially withdrawing. "He is an American hero and America could use heroes in the White House. He is a man of honor and integrity and you can underline both, honor and integrity."

"I am very proud to endorse my friend and fellow Republican, a hero, John McCain of Arizona, for president of the United States of America. God bless you, John."

Giuliani's endorsement of McCain has the potential to help speed the Arizona senator's efforts to dispatch his remaining rivals, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

McCain accepted the endorsement of "America's Mayor," and with it the likelihood of more volunteers, more fundraisers, and more support from a Republican establishment hungry for a quick end to the unusually contentious nomination fight.

"I'm deeply honored by your friendship, which has been for many years," McCain said, adding that in the struggle against terrorism, "my strong right arm, my partner, my friend, in this effort will be the former mayor of New York City, an American hero, Rudy Giuliani."

The race now accelerates into a 21-state sprint as the remaining candidates court tens of millions of voters who will cast ballots on Feb. 5. It is a single day of voting the likes of which has never been seen during a nomination battle in either party.

Appearing beside his wife, Judith, at the library, Giuliani promised to campaign vigorously for McCain, who will travel to California, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts in the next four days.

Victories by McCain in some of the biggest states like New York and California -- where Giuliani's support will be particularly helpful -- could quickly cement McCain as the GOP choice to face Democrats and succeed George Bush in the White House.

But Romney is not giving up, as he made clear in a speech to supporters Tuesday night.

Having spent tens of millions of dollars from his personal fortune in an effort to do what his father tried and failed to do -- win the Republican nomination -- Romney said he wants to give Republican voters a chance to cast ballots on Feb. 5.

But Romney faces a difficult fight. His gold-plated campaign has failed to produce the kind of victories that some predicted it might, especially against candidates like McCain and Huckabee, who have operated on a shoestring budget.

Romney lost in Iowa and New Hampshire, dashing his hopes for momentum that would overwhelm his opponents. He lost in South Carolina and in Florida, where he had hoped to prove his appeal outside of the northeast.

His only real victory came in Michigan, a state where his economic message resonated and where his family connections mattered. He was also born in the state, and his father once served as governor there.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 30, 2008; 6:29 PM ET
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Next: McCain vs. Romney, At Last (& Huckabee & Paul, Too)

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