McCain Savors Victory
By Michael D. Shear and Juliet Eilperin
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Arizona Sen. John McCain declared victory in the South Carolina primary tonight, erasing the painful memory of his loss here eight years ago with a win that he hopes will provide him the momentum to finally capture the Republican presidential nomination.
"We have a ways to go, of course," the exuberant senator declared to roaring crowds in Charleston. "There are some tough contests ahead, starting tomorrow in the state of Florida where we are going to win, with your support. But, my friends, we are well on our way tonight."
McCain singled out for thanks his wife, Cindy, and his 95-year-old mother, Roberta, both of whom campaigned for McCain in Iowa and New Hampshire and the rest of the primary states for the senator this year.
McCain said his win was the result of his willingness to tell the voters "the truth" about the challenges the country faces. That has been the trademark of both his campaigns for the presidency as he travels the country in a bus called the "Straight Talk Express."
"Before I can win your vote, I must earn your respect," he said. "And the only way I know how to do that is by being honest with you. I have tried to do that throughout this campaign, and to put my trust in your willingness to give me your fair consideration. So far, it seems to be working pretty well."
As he did on the stump throughout the last year, he focused on reducing government spending and focusing on foreign policy, especially the need for a strong military and a commitment to fighting terrorism.
"We can overcome any challenge as long as we keep our courage, and stand by our defense of free markets, low taxes, and small government that have made America the greatest land of opportunity in the world," he said.
As he finished, the Abba song, "Take a Chance on Me" blared from speakers, replacing the campaign's longtime speech closer, "Johnny B. Good," and a man in the audience yelled out "We love you John!"
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