Huckabee Wins Kansas GOP Caucuses

Huckabee Wins Kansas GOP Caucuses

Mike Huckabee won the Kansas Republican caucuses Saturday, FOX News projects, demonstrating the lingering rift in the party after rival John McCain was minted the clear front-runner following Super Tuesday.

With 65 percent of precincts reporting, Huckabee had 61 percent and McCain had 24 percent. Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 11 percent.

Both McCain and Huckabee were wooing conservatives in the state Friday. Huckabee had the support of anti-abortion activists , while McCain had the backing from conservative Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback.

Huckabee pledged Saturday morning at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., that he would be staying in the race, even though Mitt Romney’s exit from the race earlier in the week made McCain the virtual heir to the GOP nomination.

But McCain is still trying to reach out to conservatives, many of whom are skeptical of him for taking moderate positions on campaign finance, taxes and immigration.

“This is a huge win for us,” Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman said. “This is a state that both candidates competed in. This shows that Washington pundits don’t pick the nominee. The folks in the states and outside the Beltway pick the nominee. So not so fast, we still have a long way to go until the nominee is picked, with 20-plus states left.”

Huckabee will have a lot farther to go to catch McCain. Kansas offers 36 total delegates, but the Arizona senator began the day with 719 delegates.

Huckabee had 198, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 14.

Eighty delegates are stake for the GOP in Saturday’s contests in Kansas, Louisiana, Washington and Guam. McCain’s campaign has said the earliest the Arizona senator could seal the nomination with the needed 1,191 delegates is the March 4 primary.

Some Kansas Republicans thought their caucuses would provide an indication of whether conservatives grudgingly accepted McCain as the GOP candidate or whether they still hoped to nominate someone else despite the long odds.

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