US Election: Romney Reaps Super Tuesday Spoils
US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has crowned a string of Super Tuesday victories with a wafer-thin win in the swing state of Ohio, reports the BBC.
As expected, he cruised to victory in his home state of Massachusetts, as well as Idaho, Vermont and Virginia.
After a cliffhanger count, he narrowly edged out Rick Santorum in Ohio, the night’s most coveted prize.
Santorum won a hat-trick of contests, while Newt Gingrich took his home state of Georgia.
Ron Paul was pinning his hopes on Alaska’s caucuses for his only win of the nomination campaign.
The eventual nominee will be crowned at the Republican convention in August before challenging Barack Obama in November’s election.
After Tuesday’s 10-state voting marathon, Romney defended his position as the front-runner.
“I’m going to get this nomination,” he told supporters in Boston.
He easily won Massachusetts, where he was governor, as well as liberal-leaning Vermont and Idaho, where his fellow Mormons make up a chunk of the electorate.
Romney also won resoundingly in Virginia, where Santorum and Gingrich failed to qualify for the ballot.
But Santorum, a former US senator from Pennsylvania, said his victories in Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota proved he was the bona fide conservative alternative to Romney.
“This was a big night tonight,” Santorum told supporters in Steubenville, Ohio. “We have won in the West, the Midwest and the South, and we’re ready to win across this country.”
Ohio was important because no Republican nominee has taken the White House without winning the Midwestern bellwether state in the general election.
Santorum began the race there with a big lead in the opinion polls, but Romney’s well-funded political machine overcame him in part by virtually saturating the airwaves with attack adverts.
Santorum has attracted the support of religious conservatives with his opposition to gay marriage and abortion.
But correspondents say his outspoken remarks on birth control and the role of religion may have turned off moderate-leaning voters.
Exit polls showed Ohio voters thought Romney stood the best chance of beating Obama, however, Santorum appealed more to blue-collar voters.
Gingrich, the former House speaker, did not achieve the sweep of Southern states he hoped for.
But he vowed to stay in the race after his Georgia win.
“There are lots of bunny rabbits to run through, I am the tortoise. I just take one step at a time,” Gingrich said.
A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to win
The BBC’s Paul Adams in Washington says the race is not over yet as the next crop of primaries and caucuses will not do Romney any favours.
Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Hawaii hold their contests over the next 10 days.
Our correspondent says Santorum and Gingrich will be hoping to halt Romney’s momentum and keep their challenges alive.
The drawn-out nomination fight, which has been waged in large part through negative television adverts, may have taken its toll on the Republican Party.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll showed only 35% of Americans looked upon Romney favourably, compared to 32% for Paul, 23% for Gingrich, and 32% for Santorum.
Out of the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination, more than 400 were up for grabs on Tuesday.