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John McCain won the Florida presidential primary, in a narrow victory over chief rival Mitt Romney. Rudy Giuliani, who had staked the future of his campaign on Florida, placed third.

Giuliani was set to drop out and endorse McCain on Wednesday, according to Time’s Mark Halperin.

McCain now takes the status of Republican front-runner, although Romney’s showing was significant enough to keep him in the race through Feb. 5 Super Tuesday and perhaps beyond.

“As I am frequently reminded of lately, an all Republican primary,” McCain told supporters, after doubts that he could capture party support with his appeal to indepndents having proelled him to victory elsewhere.

“Our victory may not be of landslide proportions, but it is sweet nonetheless.”

The results were particularly crushing for Giuliani and his supporters in California, where he had set up a significant operation and had made numerous campaign stops. He enlisted the support of celebrities such as Jon Voight and Robert Duvall, and top Republican donors in the industry.