The story

Arizona Sen. John McCain piled up wins in the Republican race for the White House Tuesday -- with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also surging to victories throughout the South just days after ignoring calls to drop out of the race.

By late Tuesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney also had won several states -- but mainly in places he was expected to win handily or states with far fewer delegates than the states being won by Huckabee.

McCain appeared headed to the top spots in California, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Delaware and his home state of Arizona, based on early returns and results from exit polls in those states.

CNN declared McCain the winner in delegate-rich California shortly before 12:30 a.m. (ET) Wednesday. Earlier, he was upbeat as he spoke to supporters.

"Although I've never minded the role of the underdog and have relished as much as anyone come-from-behind wins, tonight I think we must get used to the idea that we are the Republican Party front-runner," McCain said. "And I don't really mind it one bit." Watch McCain celebrate Tuesday's wins Read full article »

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