Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney effectively claimed the Republican presidential nomination as he reveled in a five-state primary sweep and urged voters to help him oust President Barack Obama in November.
“Tonight is the start of a new campaign,” Romney told supporters in New Hampshire. “Tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years — and it’s the start of a new and better chapter that we will write together.”
The former Massachusetts governor spoke as he swept primaries in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York, the first since Rick Santorum conceded the nomination, tells The Huff Post.
Romney also outlined the themes of his campaign against Obama, asking Americans if they were better off under his administration and accusing the president of failing to deliver on his campaign pledges of hope and change.
“Americans have always been eternal optimists,” Mr. Romney said. “Over the last three and a half years, we have seen hopes and dreams diminished by false promises and weak leadership. Everywhere I go, Americans are tired of being tired.”
“Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one?” Mr. Romney asked, according to The New York Times.
He continued: “If the answer were yes to those questions, then President Obama would be running for re-election based on his achievements and rightly so, but because he has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions and distractions and distortions.”
The wins in five Northeastern states moved Romney, who entered the night with 695 delegates, closer to the 1,144 he needs to formally clinch the nomination, a milestone that is still weeks away, reports Reuters.
Newt Gingroch has 141 delegates, Ron Paul 84 for Paul. Rick Santorum has 267 delegates, but he bowed out of the race two weeks ago.
Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich had said before the Tuesday primaries that he would reassess his candidacy if he did not win the primary in Delaware, where he had campaigned heavily in recent weeks.
Mitt Romney beat Gingrich by more than 30 percentage points in Delaware and won all of the state’s 17 delegates. But Gingrich did not concede during a speech in North Carolina after the vote. He said he planned to continue his schedule in the state this week.
Libertarian Texas Congressman Ron Paul, the other remaining candidate, said on Monday that he would not drop out of the race even after Romney clinches the nomination.
President Barack Obama campaigned Tuesday in North Carolina and Colorado, making the case that, however slowly, the economy is growing stronger.
“Our businesses have added more than 4 million jobs over the past two years, but we all know there’s still too many Americans out there looking for work or trying to find a job that pays enough to cover the bills and make the mortgage,” the president said.
“We still have too many folks in the middle class that are searching for that security that started slipping away years before the recession hit,” Obama said.
President stressed his modest background and the student loans he needed for college, references that seemed designed as a swipe at the multimillionaire Romney.
Given the stakes, the presidential campaign is likely to be negative as the two sides battle through TV and radio ads. Both candidates and the outside groups that support them are building campaign accounts likely to reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars.