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Romney scores major wins in Michigan and Arizona primaries

Mitt Romney overcomes a strong showing from Rick Santorum to top polls in Michigan – the state where his father was governor.

Mitt Romney addresses supporters in Michigan after a narrow - but reaffirming - win in the Michigan primary.
Mitt Romney addresses supporters in Michigan after a narrow - but reaffirming - win in the Michigan primary.
Image: Gerald Herbert/AP

MITT ROMNEY has once again affirmed his status as the favourite to win the Republican Party’s nomination for President, after decisive – though at times narrow – victories in two states.

Republican voters in Michigan and Arizona last night backed former Massachusetts governor Romney to be the party nominee in November’s contest against Barack Obama, with the victory in the former state seen as particularly telling.

Though Romney is himself from Michigan, and his father was a governor in the state, his victory had not at all been certain – with former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum capitalising on strong showings in national polls by threatening to take a stunning victory.

With virtually all districts reporting there, however, Romney had taken 41.1 per cent of the vote (410,477), ahead of Santorum on 37.9 per cent (389,069).

Texan congressman Ron Paul took a comfortable third place with 11.6 per cent of the vote, while former House speaker Newt Gingrich took just 6.5 per cent.

Although the result ironically means Santorum could win more delegates from the state than Romney (six of the 30 delegates are split between the top-two performing candidates, while the other 24 are assigned to the winners in the 12 congressional districts), Santorum’s failure to top the poll may mean he has missed his best chance of proving he can defeat Romney in the long run.

“We didn’t win by a lot,” Romney told supporters after his win was projected, “but we won by enough and that’s all that counts.”

He later added: “This time we got to get the choice right. I’ve said it before: this election is about saving the soul of America.”

(YouTube credit: PBSNewsHour)

Santorum himself acknowledged that it would be a tough task to go into the “back yard” of an opponent, but that he was happy with how Michigan had taken him to heart.

In Arizona, matters were a little more straightforward: Romney, who has the backing of the last Republican nominee John Mccain, took a much simpler win with over 47 per cent of the vote compared to Santorum’s 27 per cent, while Gingrich stood on 16 per cent and Paul on 8.

Washington state holds a non-binding Republican caucus on Saturday, the last one before ‘Super Tuesday’ next week when ten states hold their primaries and caucuses with some 410 delegates up for grabs.

Read: Political football: NFL opener moved because of Obama speech clash >

Read: Rick Santorum under fire at Republican debate

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Gavan Reilly

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