Romney Looks to Widen Lead with Illinois Primary Win

Posted March 20th, 2012 at 6:15 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is looking to widen his lead over top rival Rick Santorum Tuesday, as the contest to pick the party's nominee moves to the central state of Illinois.

Opinion polls show Romney 15 points ahead of Santorum in Illinois as voters prepare to take part in the state's primary.

Fifty-four delegates are at stake Tuesday and a win would give Romney major momentum. The former Massachusetts governor has already won 521 delegates to 253 for Santorum.

The other two Republican candidates, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, are far behind.

On Monday, Romney and Santorum campaigned in Illinois. Romney met with voters at a diner in the capital, Springfield, before heading to Chicago to deliver an economic address. He pledged to control government spending.

“I want to restore the principles that made America the greatest nation on Earth — and one of them is you don't spend more than you take in.”

Santorum has said that if he wins Tuesday's primary, he will secure the Republican presidential nomination. The former U.S. senator urged supporters to get others to vote for him.

“This could be an amazing time in American history, and right here in Illinois you can usher that in. You can surprise the pundits, amaze them with conservatives.”

On Sunday, Romney won Puerto Rico's 20 delegates, moving him closer to the 1,144 needed to win the Republican nomination. The winner will face President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in the November election.