John McCain and Mitt Romney were engaged in a tight battle for the Florida primary on Tuesday, as Rudolph Giuliani trailed in what may be his final shot at the Republican nomination.
Hillary Clinton easily won the state’s Democratic primary over Barack Obama, although the race was nothing more than a beauty contest as the state was stripped of its delegates in a dispute with the national party.
The Democratic candidates pledged not to campaign in the state, leaving much of the attention to the five remaining GOP candidates.
The winner in the Republican contest could gain particular momentum moving into the Super Tuesday states, and Giuliani in particular had staked much of the future of his campaign on winning. He signaled to reporters in the past few days that he would decide the future of his campaign on Wednesday morning.
If anything, Clinton’s appearance in Florida may make more of a psychological difference to the campaign, after suffering a big loss on Saturday in the South Carolina and the key endorsement of Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Obama’s campaign tried to minimize the importance of Florida, noting its lack of delegates. Sen. John Kerry, who has endorsed Obama, told reporters on Tuesday morning that “the bottom line is that Florida does not offer any delegates. It is not a legitimate race. It should not become a ‘spin’ race. It should not become a fabricated race.”