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McCain campaigning for money and votes

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. McCain looks to broaden conservative support and raise millions
  • McCain gathered 918 delegates toward the 1,191 needed for the GOP nomination
  • Arizona senator utilizing the Internet to gain fundraising momentum
  • His campaign says it banked more than $7 million in January
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As Sen. John McCain has pulled away from his last remaining rival for the Republican nomination and looks toward the general election, he is chasing money as he chases votes.

Sen. John McCain's team will move to a campaign focused more on Democrats and the general election.

CNN now estimates McCain has gathered 918 delegates from Tuesday toward the 1,191 needed for the Republican nomination, while former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has 217.

On the Democratic side, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continue to fight for pledged delegates, and superdelegates in order to reach the magic number of 2,025 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

But this fight between the Democrats is giving the veteran Republican senator advantages in his efforts to restock his campaign war chest.

First: Money.

McCain had money troubles from the start, and his campaign was broke by the time he won New Hampshire on January 8. Now, some of the party's biggest fund-raisers -- including some from President Bush's campaign -- are helping.

McCain's campaign says it banked more than $7 million in January. But the Democrats have much more cash.

His advisers say their goal is to raise tens of millions of dollars to use up through the Republican convention in early September.

That money would officially be primary money, which is unlimited, but will be focused on building up McCain's organization for the fall campaign against the Democrats.

McCain said Wednesday he hopes Obama will keep his word and take public financing if he should become the Democratic Party's nominee. Video Watch McCain urge Obama to keep his word »

"I committed to public financing, he committed to public financing," McCain said at an event in Columbus, Ohio. "It is not any more complicated than that. I hope he will keep his commitment to the American people."

Obama's campaign fired back.

"John McCain is in no place to question anyone on pledges when he abandoned the latest campaign finance reform efforts in order to run for the Republican nomination and went back on his commitment to take public financing for the primary election this year," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

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These days, McCain's campaign schedule has been as much, if not more, about following money as the votes needed to win the November election.Video Watch analysts debate McCain's next move »

Since last Tuesday, McCain has raised money in Virginia, Washington D.C., Wisconsin, Texas and Ohio.

This week he'll travel for cash to Illinois, Michigan and Indiana.

"We are going to be very aggressive and try to balance both our fundraising as well as our campaigning. But we've got a lot of work to do," McCain said Tuesday.

But he's getting the help of the Internet, which will be pivotal in his surge ahead.

A second advantage: Growing conservative support.

A week ago, conservatives were fuming at McCain's inevitable GOP nomination.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh recently called McCain's popularity the product of a "fractured" conservative base and an "uninspiring" GOP presidential field.

"McCain will kill conservatism as a dominant force in the Republican Party," Limbaugh said.

But conservatives are quieter now following endorsements from some of the party's biggest names -- especially former President H.W. Bush -- and the right words from the candidate.

"The best thing McCain has done in the last month was say, this Sunday, that he would not raise taxes," said conservative commentator Terry Jeffrey. "He needs clear commitments like that on other conservative issues."

The third advantage for McCain: Democrats are still fighting each other.

CNN analyst Carl Bernstein said Tuesday the neck-and-neck race between Clinton and Obama could come down to superdelegates and party brass in order to avoid a convention floor debacle.

"It's going to be more than them [superdelegates] ... It's going to be the leadership of the party like Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi," Bernstein said. "And they're going to say, 'Enough, Mr. And Mrs. Clinton... We've got to fold the tent and not have a fight to the death.' "


And McCain can use the help from the Democratic dilemma. Polls show him facing a very tight race against either Democrat.

But that's now -- and he's already shown once, with enough time and space, he can beat the odds. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Dana Bash, Tom Foreman and Rebecca Sinderbrand contributed to this report.

All About John McCainRepublican PartyU.S. Presidential Election

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