Romney Wins Easily in Illinois

Rick Santorum finishes a distant second
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2012 7:10 PM CDT
Updated Mar 20, 2012 9:33 PM CDT
Romney Poised for Illinois Win
Mitt Romney pauses to take questions from members of the media while touring the Chicago Google headquarters with Google Vice President Jim Lecinski in Chicago Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Mitt Romney rolled to an easy win in the Illinois primary tonight, reports AP. With 98% of precincts reporting, he has 47% of the vote, well ahead of Rick Santorum (35%), Ron Paul (9%), and Newt Gingrich (8%). "Thank you Illinois," Romney said. "What a night." He congratulated his opponents but then focused his speech entirely on President Obama: "It's time to say this word: Enough." The Romney camp clearly hopes that the convincing win will get national Republicans to solidify behind him once and for all, notes Politico.

  • Santorum speech: Speaking in Pennsylvania, Santorum made clear he's not going anywhere. He congratulated Romney but noted that he, too, will pick up delegates. He told supporters that America doesn't need a "manager" as president but a leader who can bring fundamental change. (Next up is Louisiana on Saturday, where Santorum is expected to do well.)
  • Gingrich snipes: He issued a statement saying Republicans need a nominee who can do more than just outspend opponents by a wide margin, reports CBS News.
  • Exit polls: One finding is that voters don't mind the prolonged race; two-thirds said they wanted their candidate to win, even if it took months longer, notes the Washington Post. In good news for Romney, 37% said electability was the nominee's most important attribute, compared with 20% who wanted a "true conservative."
(More Illinois stories.)

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