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McCain's Allies Expecting Endorsement Wave

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., center, is pictured on his charter plane the morning after his Florida Republican primary election win, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008. (AP).

By Juliet Eilperin
ABOARD THE MCCAIN PLANE -- Ever the superstitious politician, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters this morning he was "trying not to" think if himself s the GOP front-runner, despite winning the Florida primary yesterday.

"We've still got a long ways to go," the senator told reporters who gathered around him after he boarded a charter plane headed for Burbank, Calif. He added that he could not offer an instant analysis of how he managed to beat former Massachusetts Mitt Romney by five points, though he said the endorsements of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Mel Martinez provided him with a major boost. "I was surprised by the margin of our victory," he said, adding the state's pro-military bent helped his candidacy.

Despite McCain's talk, his allies were already working to quickly capitalize on his newfound front-runner status. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who said he was confident California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would endorse the senator within a matter of days, said he had already called Georgia Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson to see if they were willing to endorse McCain before their state's Feb. 5 primary.

"They'll come as a package," Graham said, adding he had told Chambliss -- who is up for reelection this year -- that backing McCain would prove to be an asset in the general election even if it would spark some criticism in the primary.

Other Republicans on Graham's wish list? Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 30, 2008; 12:39 PM ET
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