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Romney wins Illinois,Santorum looks south

The multimillionaire former governor of Massachusetts urged the party to fall in line behind his bid,which has been well financed

Written by Associated Press | Washington | Published: March 22, 2012 12:36 am

Mitt Romney moved closer to the Republican nomination to challenge President Barack Obama with a convincing,12 percentage point win in the heartland state of Illinois,while conservative challenger Rick Santorum looked ahead to this weekend’s primary vote in the perhaps more welcoming Deep South state of Louisiana.

Romney told supporters celebrating his victory Tuesday night that he was “almost there” in his six-year pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination. Romney dropped out of the nominating race in 2008 when he could not overcome Sen. John McCain,who lost to Obama.

This year’s Republican primary and caucus contest has been bruising and displays the deep division between the party’s conservative base of voters,who have largely favoured Santorum,and the party establishment assembled behind Romney.

“Tonight’s win means we are that much closer to securing the nomination,uniting our party,and taking on President Obama,” Romney wrote in a campaign email sent late Tuesday.

The multimillionaire former governor of Massachusetts urged the party to fall in line behind his bid,which has been well financed. Romney outspent Santorum on television advertising by a crushing 7-to-1 ratio. Returns from 98 per cent of Illinois’ precincts showed Romney gaining 47 per cent of the vote to Santorum’s 35 per cent. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was third with 9 per cent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich slid to fourth,with 8 per cent.

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