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McCain clinches Republican prize

  • Story Highlights
  • McCain nears victory after Super Tuesday results
  • Romney quits days later; Huckabee fights on for a while
  • McCain secures victory on March 5; tells supporters "the big battle is to come"
  • Powerful voting bloc -- the religious right -- still has concerns about McCain
  • Next Article in Politics »
By CNN's Simon Rushton
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(CNN) -- Coming out of Super Tuesday, McCain was the biggest winner with most state victories, including big states like New York and California, and well on the way to getting the 1,191 delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination.

Romney was the biggest loser, with his campaign in tatters after picking up only a few small state victories including Massachusetts where he had been governor. Just two days later he bowed out.

Huckabee stayed in the race on the back of a fair showing, winning five states. He said he wanted to give his base the chance to vote for the candidate they wanted.

Throughout the voting, McCain failed to completely mend his tenuous relationship with the religious right -- a powerful voting bloc in recent years that helped put Bush in the White House.

On the campaign trail McCain stressed his positions opposing abortion and same-sex marriage rather than his support for federal funding of stem cell research, which is unpopular with some on the religious right.

But Huckabee showed his strength with the religious right by winning Louisiana and Kansas in the first votes after Super Tuesday.

On March 4, McCain won four states including big fish Ohio and Texas, racing past the 1,191 delegates marker to become the presumptive Republican nominee. Watch McCain celebrate with supporters Video

"The big battle's to come," he told supporters. "I do not underestimate the significance nor the size of the challenge."

The win gave McCain the chance to step off the campaign trail and act presidential in a tour of the Middle East and Western Europe with stops in Britain, Iraq, Jordan, Israel and France.

He turned his attention to fundraising for the general election while Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continued to fight for the Democratic nomination -- which would not be sorted out until early June.

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The end of the primary battle gave McCain a chance to tour the states he will need to win in November and build bridges with the Republicans he has not yet won over, including the religious right. Watch where McCain wins and loses with the religious right Video

Names mentioned as possible running mates for McCain include Romney who is strong on the economy and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist who has strong support in the state, a key battleground in the general election that Crist helped deliver to McCain in the primary.

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