50 Republican delegates in Michigan, Louisiana swing behind John McCain
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Sen. John McCain, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, picked up a total of 50 GOP national convention delegates from Michigan and Louisiana Saturday.
Republicans met in both states to resolve how to divvy up delegates to the national convention in September.
Thirty-two of Louisiana’s 47 delegates told The Associated Press they intend to vote for McCain, and three others also are expected to back him.
Likewise, a majority of Michigan’s presidential delegates also say they’ll back the Arizona senator now that primary winner Mitt Romney is out of the race, although it’s still unclear how many will go to the national convention.
As a result, McCain has 903 total delegates nationally, according to an Associated Press tally. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has 245, while Romney’s total dropped to 253. A total of 1,191 are needed to secure the nomination.
The McCain campaign said 43 of Louisiana’s delegates have signed pledges to vote for McCain.
The Republican National Committee stripped Michigan of half its 60 delegates for defying party rules by moving its presidential primary to Jan. 15.
Counting just the 30 Michigan delegates allowed so far, 23 were supposed to go to Romney, who won Michigan’s Jan. 15 primary. Although those delegates technically will go the Sept. 1-4 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul uncommitted to any candidate, 18 now say they’ll back McCain.
With the Romney delegates divvied up, McCain has the backing of 24 Michigan national delegates, while Huckabee has the backing of four. It was unclear which candidate two delegates would back.
But GOP activists are sure they’ll get 57 pledged delegates and three unpledged delegates seated in Minneapolis-St. Paul, so they filled all those spots — plus 57 for alternates — during their state convention Friday and Saturday at the Lansing Center.
In Louisiana, Republicans meeting Saturday in Baton Rouge selected 44 of the state’s 47 national GOP convention delegates.
Of the 44 delegates selected, 32 told the Associated Press they will back McCain, while three are uncommitted. Another nine delegates were unavailable.
Louisiana’s Feb. 9 presidential primary would have pledged 20 at-large national GOP delegates had a candidate received at least 50 percent of the ballots cast. With Huckabee winning with 43 percent and McCain right behind with 42 percent, no at-large delegates were awarded.
Also, three party officials, all McCain supporters, are automatic delegates to the national convention. Republicans at caucuses around the state cast ballots Jan. 22 for delegates and alternates to Saturday’s state convention. McCain won those caucuses, giving him the advantage over Huckabee at the state convention.
Many of the state convention delegates wore “McCain” stickers on their lapels and cheered when Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina gave a speech urging them to support McCain.
“John is consistent and John McCain is fair,” Burr said. “John McCain is stubborn, John McCain is real. You know just where you stand with him.”
Huckabee supporters were not evident, other than one volunteer with yard signs. Huckabee had little or no campaign presence in Louisiana.
Associated Press Writer Doug Simpson reported from Baton Rouge, La.
Published in The Messenger 2.18.08
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