Uniting Republicans will take time: McCain

Other News Materials 6 February 2008 23:17 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- John McCain expects a decisive victory in the coming weeks after taking a commanding lead in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination, but he acknowledged Wednesday that he still faces the task of unifying the party in time for general elections in November.

The Arizona senator won nine of the 21 Republican state contests held Tuesday and received the lion's share of delegates on offer to the party's nominating convention in September, but McCain's moderate views on many domestic issues have drawn the ire of the party's conservative base and right-wing talk-show hosts.

Chief rival Mitt Romney has attacked McCain as a "liberal" and sought to rally conservatives to his cause, but that effort has been frustrated by Mike Huckabee , a Baptist preacher who scored a number of big victories in the South on Tuesday.

"Do we have a lot of work to do to unite the entire party? Sure," McCain said at a press conference in Phoenix, Arizona. "After the campaigns are over you've always got the task of uniting the party behind the nominee."

"I've spent my political career doing that, and I'm confident we will do that with the Republican Party now," he said.

McCain said he cancelled a trip to Europe this weekend to focus on upcoming state contests in Washington state, Kansas, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Colombia.

"Hopefully we can wrap this thing up, unite the party, and be ready to take on the Democratic nominee in November," he said.