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House Republican leaders endorsed Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) to be the party’s White House nominee on Wednesday after emerging from a closed-door meeting.

[IMGCAP(1)]McCain addressed the House GOP Conference on Wednesday at the Capitol Hill Club.

Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.) all threw their support behind McCain, who has had a tenuous relationship with his party’s leadership over the years.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) endorsed McCain last week, and the move by the House leaders is another signal that the GOP nominating contest is all but over. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has said he is staying in the race, although numerically it appears all but impossible for him to overcome McCain at this point.

In a statement, Blunt said McCain can help the party in downballot races.

“I believe it produced the best possible nominee for us to take back the House,” Blunt said. “A nominee who appeals to Reagan Democrats, a nominee who appeals to independents and a nominee who will unite conservatives in a way that ensures he’ll not only be the next president but also work with a Republican majority in the House.”

Blunt and Boehner had remained neutral in the presidential contest until now. Putnam backed former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), who ended his campaign in January.

— Lauren W. Whittington

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