Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has won an important victory on "Super Tuesday," as Republicans select their nominee for US elections. However his lead over his main challenger was less than decisive.
US Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney won a slim victory in primary elections in the key state of Ohio, giving him a marginal victory over his main rival, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.
Santorum scored convincing wins in Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota, while Romney claimed Massachusetts, where he served as governor, in addition to Alaska, Idaho, Vermont and Virginia.
"To the millions of Americans who look around and can only see jobs they can't get and bills they can't pay, I have a message," Romney told supporters in Boston. "You have not failed. You have a president that has failed you, and that's going to change."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia.
In the flurry of voting in 10 states on "Super Tuesday," 410 of the delegates to the Republican Party's 2012 convention were up for grabs, just under 18 percent of the total. A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to secure the nomination.
The outcome in Ohio was crucial for both Romney and Santorum, not just because of its 66 delegates, but also for its symbolic importance as a microcosm of the American electorate, with an industrial base and a mix of rural and urban voters. It is also considered a key swing state in the general election.
Prior to Super Tuesday, Romney had 203 delegates to his name, Santorum had 92, and Gingrich had 33. The fourth Republican presidential candidate, Ron Paul, trailed with 25.
Romney is largely seen as the favorite of Republican Party officials, yet his failure to shake off his three rivals and secure the party nomination has led to a long and bitter primary campaign.
acb, dfm/pfd (AFP, Reuters)