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CNN Today

Election 2000: Sen. McCain Hears Voice of Republicans, Withdraws From Presidential Race

Aired March 9, 2000 - 2:04 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In the race for the White House, the story today is the two presidential hopefuls whose dreams died Super Tuesday. This morning, Democrat Bill Bradley officially quit the race and pledged his support to his former rival, Al Gore. One hour later, Republican John McCain pulled out but without endorsing George W. Bush.

CNN's John King witnessed McCain's announcement near the senator's desert getaway in lovely Sedona, Arizona -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, it's back to the Senate now for John McCain. He promises -- he promised his supporters today he would continue his fight for campaign finance and other government reforms. As you mentioned, he wished Governor George Bush well. He did not offer an endorsement just yet. Some negotiations still to come between the McCain campaign and the Bush campaign.

The senator won the New Hampshire primary. It appeared then he might have a chance at the Republican nomination, but the senator telling his supporters here today that as the results came in on Super Tuesday it was clear that Republican voters had spoken and that it was time for him to bow out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm suspending my campaign so that Cindy and I can take same time to reflect on our recent experiences and determine how we can best continue to serve the country and help bring about the changes to the practices and institutions of our great democracy that are the purpose of our campaign. But we believe these changes are essential to ensuring the continued success of the American experiment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Absent McCain, the campaign goes on. Three mountain states hold primaries on Friday. Governor Bush campaigning in Colorado today; 91 delegates at stake this Friday. Governor Bush could have a mathematical lock on the Republican nomination by next Tuesday.

He was asked about Senator McCain's decision today, and Governor Bush said he wished his former rival well. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GEORGE BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was pleased with the warm tone and the -- and his best wishes for me and my family. I was pleased to hear him talk about willing -- that he wants to go back to the Senate and continue to battle for reform, and I look forward to working with him on a reform agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, intermediaries already trying to arrange a meeting between Bush and McCain. Governor Bush said he would speak to Senator McCain as soon as possible. Republicans very eager to bring peace and unity to the party, but there's still some bad blood from a sometimes- bitter primary campaign. Unclear just when such a meeting would take place. Most in the Bush camp would suggest it would come after next week, after next Tuesday night, when Governor Bush should reach enough delegates to have a mathematical lock on the Republican nomination -- Natalie.

ALLEN: John King in Sedona, Arizona.

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