Romney Claims Mantle of Republican Presidential Nominee

Posted April 25th, 2012 at 12:25 am (UTC-5)
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Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is turning his attention toward the November general election — and U.S. President Barack Obama — after effectively securing his party's nomination with five state primary election victories Tuesday.

Romney easily won the northeastern states of Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and New York. In a victory speech in New Hampshire, Romney told supporters that Mr. Obama has failed to restore the nation's economy, which has struggled with chronically high unemployment since the worldwide recession struck in 2008. Romney declared that “a better America begins tonight.”

“Tonight is the start of a new campaign to unite every American who knows in their heart that we can do better. The last few years have been the best that Barack Obama can do, but it's not the best America can do. Tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years, and it's the start of a new and better chapter that we will write together.”

The former Massachusetts governor is claiming the Republican nomination after a long primary election season. Romney's path to the nomination was cleared when his strongest rival, former U.S. senator Rick Santorum, dropped out of the race two weeks ago.

Romney entered Tuesday's primary contests, with at least 695 of the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination, far ahead of Santorum and two other rivals, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Representative Ron Paul.

Gingrich said earlier this week he would consider withdrawing from the race if he lost the Delaware primary, but he told supporters in North Carolina Tuesday that he would continue his campaign all the way to the Republican national convention in Tampa, Florida. Gingrich says he wants the party to fight for social issues such as gun rights, U.S. energy independence, and a ban on same-sex marriages.

“Let me also say that one of the reasons we are determined to go all the way to Tampa is to fight for a platform that does have these kind of issues in it, a platform that does include not only the issue of marriage, but a platform that frankly lays out the notion that the Second Amendment right to bear arms (in the U.S. Constitution) should be embodied in a treaty for all human beings everywhere on the face of the planet because the right to bear arms comes from our Creator, not from government.”

Mr. Obama, the Democratic incumbent, faced no challengers for his party's nomination.

The president began a two-day trip Tuesday to college campuses in North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa, touting his plans for more affordable higher education.

The president wants Congress to extend a law set to expire in July that would prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling.

Mr. Obama spoke about the law in a comic segment when he appeared on a popular late-night television talk show .

“What we said is simple, now is not the time to make school more expensive for our young people. Oh yeah.”

Romney, who has questioned what the president has done for young people since taking office, has also endorsed extending the law.