US Republican presidential candidate and front-runner John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday he won endorsement from his former arch-rival Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts.
Romney made the announcement in his campaign headquarters in Boston, Mass., with McCain present, saying he made the decision to unite the Republican party in this year's general elections to beat Democrats.
"Even when the contest was close and our disagreements were debated, the caliber of the man was apparent," said the former governor, referring to McCain.
Romney also said he will release his 286 delegates and ask them to support McCain, which will put the latter close to the nomination.
McCain now has the support of 827 national convention delegates, and it will add up to 1,013 after Romney's endorsement, just 78 votes short to secure the Republican presidential nomination.
Romney dropped out of the Republican nomination race after Feb.5 Super Tuesday primaries when he finished far behind McCain in the number of the delegates going to the national convention in September.
To date, three of McCain's rivals in the nomination races have endorsed him, including former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, former politician and actor Fred Thompson and Romney.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is McCain's last remaining competitor for the nomination.
Although most analysts said Huckabee's chances are diminished, he vowed to fight to the end.
Some Republicans worry that the longer Huckabee stays in the race, the harder he makes it for McCain to make amends with skeptical conservatives.
(Xinhua News Agency February 15, 2008)