Romney wins Puerto Rico, race moves to Ill., La.

by
March 19, 2012

By BEN FOX, Associated Press – 30 minutes ago

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Mitt Romney scored an overwhelming win Sunday in Puerto Rico’s Republican presidential primary, trouncing chief rival Rick Santorum on the Caribbean island even as the two rivals looked ahead to more competitive contests this week in Illinois and Louisiana.

Romney’s wife, Ann, urged Republicans to unite behind her husband. “It’s time to come together,” she said at a rally in suburban Chicago. “It’s time to get behind one candidate and get the job done so we can move on to the next challenge, bringing us one step closer to defeating Barack Obama.”

The victory in Puerto Rico was so convincing that Romney, the GOP front-runner, won all 20 delegates to the national convention at stake because he prevailed with more than 50 percent of the vote. That padded his comfortable lead over Santorum in the race to amass the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

Romney announced the Puerto Rico win at the Illinois rally and told the crowd, “I intend to become our nominee and I intend to get Latino voters to vote for a Republican and take back the White House.”

Nevertheless, the GOP nomination fight is unlikely to end anytime soon, with Santorum refusing to step aside even though Romney is pulling further ahead in the delegate hunt.

As the day began, Santorum claimed he was in contest for the long haul because Romney is a weak front-runner.

“This is a primary process where somebody had a huge advantage, huge money advantage, huge advantage of establishment support and he hasn’t been able to close the deal and even come close to closing the deal,” Santorum said. “That tells you that there’s a real flaw there.”

Yet, Santorum sidestepped when asked if he would fight Romney on the convention floor if he failed before August to stop the former Massachusetts governor from getting the required number of delegates.

Romney, in turn, expressed confidence that he’d prevail.

“I can’t tell you exactly how the process is going to work,” Romney said. “But I bet I’m going to become the nominee.”

Both campaigned in Puerto Rico last week — in a campaign focused on statehood for the U.S. territory — but Romney cut short his trip so he could head to Illinois and Santorum spent Sunday in Louisiana. Illinois, a more moderate Midwestern state, votes Tuesday and is seen as more friendly territory for Romney, while Santorum is the favorite in the more conservative Southern state of Louisiana, which votes Saturday.

To read more, visit: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jH7meEgPynvA479SB9vHtJfqiAnA?docId=d5fe19685263492ca1fe03feb56dad88

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