McCain Facing Difficulties In Virginia

February 12, 2008

Republican front-runner John McCain faced difficulties of his

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee led in early returns, with 49 percent of the vote, in a race that triggered a heavy turnout of evangelical Christian voters.

Four in 10 Republican voters - twice as many as in a 2000 primary - said they were born again or evangelical Christians, and roughly 70 percent of them supported Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister.

Virginia voters could vote in either primary. In a twist, Huckabee was running slightly ahead of McCain among independents, who cast about a fifth of the Republican votes.

There were 113 delegates at stake in the three GOP races. The AP count showed McCain with 729 delegates. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who dropped out of the race last week, had 288. Huckabee had 241 and Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 14.

It takes 1,191 delegates to clinch the Republican nomination, and McCain appears to be on track to reach the target by late April.

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