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US Presidential Contenders Campaign Ahead of Saturday Primaries

Republican Senator John McCain is campaigning in Virginia today, after receiving a big boost Thursday when his main rival for the presidential nomination, former Governor Mitt Romney suspended his campaign. On the Democratic side, the race remains extremely close between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Both are campaigning hard ahead of several nominating contests Saturday and Sunday. VOA Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Washington.

Arizona Senator John McCain congratulated Former Massachusetts Governor Romney for running a good campaign, and reached out to Romney's supporters.

"You did a fine job, and you are welcome to join my campaign," he said.

Romney's departure appears to have all but sealed the nomination for McCain, who must now try to win over conservative critics within his own party. But former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is still in the race. He told reporters not to count him out yet.

"I still believe this thing is a long way from being settled, so now the field is down to two my chances have substantially improved," he said.

Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, is campaigning in Kansas today, ahead of Republican caucuses there on Saturday.

McCain has already won 707 of the more than 1,000 delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination. Huckabee has 195 and Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who is also still in the race, has 14.

Huckabee said he realizes it is virtually impossible for him to catch up, but he says he is "looking forward to doing the impossible."

Senators Clinton and Obama are locked in a fierce state-by-state battle for delegates, after Super Tuesday's primaries and caucuses left them virtually even. Both candidates are holding rallies in the western state of Washington today, ahead of contests there and in Louisiana, Nebraska and the Virgin Islands Saturday, and in Maine on Sunday.

Both Democrats say they are the best candidate to take on Senator McCain in the general election in November. Clinton spoke to supporters in Virginia Thursday.

"Who would be our best candidate to stand on the stage with Senator McCain to talk about national security, the economy and all the other important issues? I am offering a lifetime of experience, but more than that, I am offering my heart," she said.

Clinton and Obama are also looking ahead to contests next Tuesday in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

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