McCain Bests Conservative Offensive in SC
But can he win contests open only to Republicans?
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2008 8:00 AM CST
Republican presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. after his South Carolina presidential primary election win Saturday, Jan. 19, 2008. (AP Photo/Charles...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Despite an onslaught from uber-conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, John McCain managed to capture a chunk of the Republican establishment to win South Carolina. McCain's victory marked a dramatic difference from the last time conservatives blasted him out of the running in South Carolina in 2000, reports the Washington Post. "I think the people of South Carolina are getting to know John McCain now," said a supporter.

Limbaugh warned that McCain would "destroy" the GOP and former House majority leader Tom DeLay blasted him for working with the "most liberal Democrats." But McCain's future is far from in the bag. So far he has benefited from primaries that allow independents to vote. The coming contest in Florida is open only to registered Republicans, and will test his ability to galvanize a base that may be alienated by any deviance from a conservative party line.