McCain Wins, Says He's the One
By Glenn Kessler
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As the wall-sized images of CNN counted down the clock to when the polls closed in Wisconsin, the crowd packed in the Rennaissance Hotel ballroom here chanted down the numbers before erupting in cheers when the network immediately called the state for the Arizona senator.
John McCain and his wife Cindy appeared before the crowd barely five minutes later, to the beat of "Takin' Care of Business." McCain wasted no time in declaring that he will soon claim the nomination.
"Thank you, Wisconsin, for bringing us to the point where even a suspicious naval aviator can claim with confidence and humility that I will be our party's nominee for president," McCain said.
In his victory speech, McCain appeared to set his sights on silver-tongued Barack Obama as his competitor in the general election, ignoring the fact that Sen. Hillary Clinton is still running neck and neck with the Illinois senator.
"I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change" that "promises no more than a holiday from history," McCain said.
Ticking off issues from global hot spots, such as the elections in Pakistan, the unexpected retirement of Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's threat to cut off oil supplies to the United States, McCain asked: "Will the next president have the experience? Will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate" who, he said, threatened to bomb Pakistan and would sit down with rogue dictators? While McCain did not mention Obama, both referenced statements that have caused Obama grief in the primaries.
In a line that garnered his biggest applause of the night, McCain declared, "My friends, I am not the youngest candidate, but I am the most experienced."
Former Ohio senator Mike DeWine, who lost his seat in the Democratic sweep of 2006, said he has watched McCain since they both joined the House of Representatives in 1982. "He gets foreign affairs. He understands it. He's right, time after time," DeWine said, adding that it would be a strong contrast to the Democrats. "McCain has depth. You cannot get that by walking into the Oval office and saying, 'Okay, I'm president.' "
But DeWine acknowledged that the economy, particularly in hard-hit states like Ohio, will be an issue in the general campaign. "He will continue to address the state of the economy," he said. "The loss of jobs is a big issue."
"Every four years they try to turn this state blue, but they forgot we're the Republican Party with a lot of heart and we will keep the state red," Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted told the crowd. "We all know the road to the White House runs through Ohio."
Click here for a full transcript of McCain's remarks.
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