COMMENTS: McCain on the March

John McCain is "the undisputed GOP frontrunner now," announced NBC's David Gregory. He "could not have asked for two better days," stated CBS' Bill Whitaker, leading off his network's newscast from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley where the Republicans were preparing to debate on CNN. "First the victory in Florida and tonight his big gift from Rudy Giuliani." ABC's Ron Claiborne was also in Simi Valley. He reckoned that McCain's Florida victory "completes an amazing transformation: down, out and almost broke last summer; today undeniably the Republican frontrunner." NBC's Gregory said McCain "came back after political near death over his support for the war and his moderate stance on immigration."

"McCain still faces stiff opposition," warned ABC's Claiborne. He quoted radio talkshow host Rush Limbaugh: "He is not the choice of conservatives." CBS' Whitaker cited Florida exit polls, which showed McCain's victory being achieved despite losing among the conservative base. McCain is "routinely savaged…for breaking ranks on immigration, taxes and global warming." Mitt Romney claimed the conservative mantle. "In a two-person race I like my chances," he asserted on ABC's Good Morning America. But is it a two-person race yet? NBC's Tim Russert thinks it is, declaring that the Presidential contest is "down to the Final Four," two candidates in each party. Yet CBS' Whitaker warned that "Romney is still vulnerable on his right as long as Mike Huckabee is competing for the same voters." And the CNN Reagan debate is a four-way, adding libertarian Ron Paul into the mix.


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