US Republican hopeful Mitt Romney has staked his claim on the party's nomination for the presidency with primary triumphs in five states. He heralded a new campaign phase, turning his fire on President Barack Obama.
Former Massachusetts governor Romney further staked his claim on the presidential nomination on Tuesday night, winning easy primary victories in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
The polls were the first since the Romney's closest rival for much of the race, Senator Rick Santorum, withdrew.
In a speech billed by his campaign as the first of his general election campaign against President Barack Obama, Romney declared that a new campaign was beginning. He urged voters to help him oust Obama and end the "disappointment" of the administration's time in office.
Disappointment for Gingrich
Former House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich had been eager to see if Santorum's exit might have a positive influence on his efforts to stand out as a challenger to Romney.
In particular, Gingrich had hoped for a good showing in Delaware. On the night, Romney secured 53 percent of the vote in the state, 30 points ahead of Gingrich, winning all 17 delegates up for grabs on the night under the party's complicated nomination system.
Romney - who also easily swept aside his other opponent Ron Paul - went into the Tuesday primaries with 695 delegates, according to a count by the broadcaster CNN.
The five states voting on Tuesday have 231 delegates in total. It is expected that Romney could formally hit the total of 1,144 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination in late May.
rc/ccp (AP, Reuters)