Huckabee Takes a Bow
By Michael D. Shear
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said he would wait until someone got 1,191 delegates to consider stepping aside.
He waited about 15 minutes.
Television networks declared Sen. John McCain the Republican nominee, having surpassed the number of delegates he needed, just after 9 p.m. Eastern time. Huckabee was on a stage almost immediately.
"We started this effort with very little recognition and virtually no resources. We ended with slightly more recognition and very few resources," he told his supporters.
Huckabee clearly looked like a man who didn't want to give up the national stage he has commanded since he became a serious contender for the Republican nomination.
Huckabee said he called McCain to congratulate him for an "honorable" campaign and pledged "to do everything possible to unite our party, but more importantly to unite our country."
The speech ended the improbable run for Huckabee, an amiable but little-known ex-governor who managed to raise almost no money in the first half of last year.
But he emerged in Iowa as the only real alternative for many voters, especially evangelicals and those who consider themselves very conservative. He won the Iowa caucuses in early January, severely damaging the campaign hopes of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and clearing a path for McCain.
The race between McCain and Huckabee never got nasty, but it dragged on for much longer than expected, even as McCain had dispatched other rivals.
Tonight, though, Huckabee finally gave up the fight, saying that he -- like a baseball player -- "gave it his best, all the way to the end."
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