Romney on a roll
Tampa, Florida (CNN) — Mitt Romney headed west today to begin campaigning in Minnesota and Nevada after cementing his status as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination with a solid victory in Florida’s bitterly contested primary.
Romney had 46 per cent compared to 32 per cent for Newt Gingrich, 13 per cent for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and seven per cent for Texas Rep. Ron Paul, according to the Florida Department of State website.
The victory gave Romney all 50 of Florida’s convention delegates, and more importantly, new momentum heading into a series of caucuses and primaries building up to Super Tuesday on March 6, when 10 states will hold nominating contests.
In a sign of Romney’s new prominence, a federal law enforcement source told CNN that Romney will receive Secret Service protection “within days.”
Appearing to cheers of “Mitt, Mitt, Mitt” just 30 minutes after the last polls closed, the former Massachusetts governor thanked his supporters for what he called a “great victory.”
A Florida campaign of vicious personal attacks between Romney and Gingrich, his closest competitor, raised questions about whether the process would damage the eventual winner when it comes time to run against President Barack Obama in November.
“A competitive primary does not divide us, it prepares us, and we will win,” Romney said to cheers.