- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2012

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Mitt Romney emerged the winner of Super Tuesday, taking more than half of the 10 presidential caucuses and primaries and claiming victory in the critical showdown state of Ohio — though chief challenger Rick Santorum’s three victories solidified his claim as the heartland’s conservative alternative.

The networks called the Ohio race for Mr. Romney just after midnight, capping the most important day in the two-month-old primary that saw the former Massachusetts governor win on the country’s edges, while Mr. Santorum continued to emerge victorious in the interior.

In addition to Ohio, Mr. Romney won primaries in Virginia, Massachusetts and Vermont, and the caucuses in Idaho and Alaska; Mr. Santorum won primaries in Tennessee and Oklahoma and won North Dakota’s caucuses; and Newt Gingrich won Georgia’s primary.

“Lots of states. We’re going to win a few, we’re going to lose a few. But as it looks right now, we’re going to get at least a couple gold medals and a whole passel of silver medals,” Mr. Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, said at a party in a high school gym in Steubenville, as he surveyed results that solidified his position as the chief challenger to Mr. Romney.

All told, 419 delegates were at stake, accounting for about a fifth of all the delegates available to the August nominating convention.

Two months into the race, with nearly half of the states having voted, preliminary counts show Mr. Romney has more delegates than the rest of the field combined.

But he’s still failed in the expectation game, where pundits said he should have wrapped up the nomination long ago against what they consider a weak set of opponents.

On Tuesday, Mr. Romney acknowledged what has turned into one of the most drawn-out Republican campaigns in modern history.

“Tonight, we’ve taken one more step toward restoring the promise of tomorrow. Tomorrow, we wake up, and we start again,” he said at his postelection party in Boston.

“There will be good days. there will be bad days, always long hours and never enough time to get everything done. But on Nov. 6, we will stand united, not only having won an election, but having saved a future,” Mr. Romney said.

The former Massachusetts governor has now won in Florida, the Northeast, the rust belt and the West. Meanwhile, Mr. Gingrich, a former House speaker, has won two Southern coastal states. But with the exception of Nevada, Mr. Santorum has won every race in a state that doesn’t touch a U.S. international border or the sea.

The candidates are seeking their party’s nod to square off against President Obama in November, but Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies have focused most of their attacks on Mr. Romney, whom they view as the most formidable rival.

Asked at a news conference Tuesday what message he had for Mr. Romney on Super Tuesday, the president said simply: “Good luck tonight.”

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