WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain swept a string of delegate-rich, East Coast primaries Tuesday night, reaching for command of the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Democratic rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama traded victories in an epic struggle from Connecticut to California.
"We've won some of the biggest states in the country," McCain told cheering supporters at a rally in Phoenix after pocketing victories in all regions of the country. An underdog for months, he proclaimed himself the front-runner at last, and added. "I don't really mind it one bit."
With 371 delegates, the Arizona senator was far ahead of his rivals in the competition that counted most.
Even so, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney said they were in the race to stay.
Neither Clinton nor Obama proclaimed victory on a Super Tuesday that sprawled from coast-to-coast, and with good reason.
"I look forward to continuing our campaign and our debate about how to leave this country better off for the next generation," said the former first lady, looking ahead to the primaries and caucuses yet to come.
Obama was in Chicago, where he told a noisy election night rally, "Our time has come. Our movement is real. And change is coming to America."