Mitt Romney rolled to a double-digit victory in Washington state’s Republican presidential caucuses Saturday night, his fourth campaign triumph in a row and a fresh show of strength in the run-up to 10 Super Tuesday contests in all regions of the country, reports The Huff Post.
The biggest drama was the race for second place, with only about 250 votes separating U.S. Representative Ron Paul at 25 percent and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum at 24.4 percent. Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich was in fourth place, at 11 percent.
“The voters of Washington have sent a signal that they do not want a Washington insider in the White House,” Romney said in a victory statement issued by his campaign. “They want a conservative businessman who understands the private sector and knows how to get the federal government out of the way so that the economy can once again grow vigorously.”
The outcome marked a fourth state win for Romney this week, after the former Massachusetts governor picked up contests in Michigan, Arizona and Wyoming. He also won the other most recent vote, the Maine caucus on February 11, tells Reuters.
Romney’s win in Washington was worth 30 of the 40 delegates at stake. Paul and Santorum each won five.
That brought Romney’s overall total to 203 delegates, according to an Associated Press count that includes party officials who will vote on the selection of a nominee but are not selected at primaries or caucuses.
Santorum had 92, Gingrich 33 and Paul 25. It takes 1,144 delegates to win the nomination at the Republican National Convention this summer in Tampa and challenge President Barack Obama in the fall.
Before the caucuses, Mr. Romney visited Bellevue, Wash., on Friday, in the western, more moderate part of the state, while Mr. Santorum held events on Thursday in Spokane and Pasco, both more conservative areas.
According to The New York Times, Mr. Paul was the only candidate in the state on Saturday, greeting caucusgoers on Saturday in Puyallup. At some of the sites, his supporters cried foul, saying they had been asked to declare that they were registered Republicans.
States voting on Tuesday include Ohio, traditionally a national bellwether, Georgia, Tennessee and Idaho, Washington’s neighbor to the east.
As the caucuses unfolded on Saturday, Mr. Romney, Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich all campaigned in Ohio, the most coveted of the 10 states voting on Tuesday. Georgia, which also votes on Tuesday, has more delegates, but Ohio is a major battleground in the fall, while Georgia is all but certain to vote Republican.
A victory in Ohio seems almost essential for Mr. Santorum, who has said he can beat President Obama in the fall because he can appeal to blue-collar voters in similar swing states. In the town of Blue Ash, Mr. Santorum promised that he would transform the “Rust Belt” into the “Stainless Steel Belt.”
Santorum spent the day in Ohio, where he touted his plan to improve the nation’s manufacturing base and said part of the effort must include a reduction in the number of children born out of wedlock. In Cincinnati, the former Pennsylvania senator said there’s less freedom in neighborhoods “where there are no dads.”
While polls show him in a close race with Romney in the state, it is not clear he can fully convert any success in the primary into delegate strength. There are 63 delegates at stake in Ohio, of which 48 will be allocated, three at a time, to the winners of the state’s 16 congressional districts. Santorum has only 30 of the 48 delegate slots filled for those contests.
The Romney campaign said Mr. Santorum’s failure to file a full slate in Ohio, and his failure to get on the ballot at all in Virginia, showed that he was ill-equipped to take on Mr. Obama.