WASHINGTON — Utah's Republican senators have endorsed Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to be the next president, with Sen. Bob Bennett late Wednesday calling for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to drop out of the race.

Bennett and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, previously supported Mitt Romney for the Republican ticket. Romney ran the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City and is a member of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But Romney dropped out of the race Feb. 7 and later endorsed McCain for the presidency, encouraging his delegates to vote for McCain and for his supporters to get behind the Arizona senator.

"That was sound advice, and I have followed it," Bennett said. "Now, I call on Mike Huckabee to do the same. John McCain deserves the time to unite the party and prepare for the battle in November rather than being distracted by a candidate that hopes lightning will strike even though the thunderstorm has since moved on."

Bennett said Wednesday that after the Super Tuesday elections of Feb. 6, it was clear McCain would be the nominee.

Hatch threw his support to McCain last week, saying that he wanted to show that "whereas Democrats divide, Republicans are going to unite."

"The two Democratic presidential candidates seem to be engaging in the politics of personal destruction," Hatch said, referring to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. who are still in a fierce race for the Democratic nomination.

"On issues that have long united the Republican Party, such as abortion and national defense, John is a true conservative," Hatch said. "As a Utahn, I know that my friend and neighbor to the South, John McCain, understands the challenges and opportunities of the West, a region often overlooked in the national debate.

"John and I have a long history of teamwork. As senators, we have worked together on a broad spectrum of legislation, from combating terrorism to balancing the budget, from expanding scientific research to fighting the scourge of drugs in our communities."

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