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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney greets supporters during the Iowa caucus. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall/PA Images

Mitt Romney secures Iowa win in tight GOP presidential contest

“Game on,” says second-placed Rick Santorum.

AFTER A CLOSE finish, Mitt Romney has emerged the victor of last night’s Republican Party caucus in the US state of Iowa.

Romney took an eight-vote lead over Rick Santorum with 30,015 votes to 30,007, but both secured a 25 per cent stake in the vote.

After finding he was Romney’s leading contender, Santorum said: “Game on”.

Meanwhile, in his speech to supporters, Romney focused on the presidential election battle against Obama, saying: “The gap between his promises four years ago and his performance is as great as anything I’ve ever seen in my life.”

His Twitter account thanked supporters in a message earlier:

Thank you, Iowa! What better place than the heartland of America to start the restoration of America’s heart and soul.

Former Repuclian Party presidential candidate Sen John McCain is expected to officially endorse Romney today as the campaigns to push for the party’s presidential election nomination step up a gear.

The caucus is just the first step in securing the party’s nomination to run against the Democratic candidate President Barack Obama in the November election.

Ron Paul came in third (21 per cent), while Newt Gingrich came fourth (13 per cent). Fifth-placed Rick Perry said he would now return to Austin, Texas to assess his campaign, suggesting he may drop out of the race for the Republican Party nomination.

Political analyst Matthew Dowd told ABC News that the Iowa result would help launch Santorum’s wider US campaign as many Americans would wake up this morning “and find a whole brand new person on the scene that they’re not really familiar with, even though he served 12 years as a US senator from Pennsylvania”:

(Video via ABC News)

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