Obama Congratulates Romney on Clinching Republican Nomination

Posted May 30th, 2012 at 2:10 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama has congratulated former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney on clinching the Republican presidential nomination.

An Obama campaign spokesman said the president, a Democrat, and his challenger chatted briefly, the morning after Mr. Romney secured the nomination with a victory in Tuesday's Republican primary election in Texas. Mr. Romney won about 88 of the more than 150 delegates at stake, pushing him over the 1,144 delegates he needed to claim the nomination at the party's convention this summer.

Mr. Obama said he was looking forward to “an important and healthy debate about America's future,” his campaign spokesman said. The Romney campaign said the call was “brief and cordial.”

The president and Mr. Romney, a one-time venture capitalist, have for weeks traded barbs about who can best lead the country during a four-year term starting next January. Recent political surveys of voter sentiment have shown Mr. Obama with a slight lead, and U.S. political analysts are predicting a close election.

If recent U.S. political tradition holds, the two candidates will hold three debates in October, and Vice President Joe Biden will have one with Mr. Romney's as-yet unnamed running mate.

In a statement issued by his campaign after winning the Texas vote, Mr. Romney said Republicans had come together with the goal of “putting the failures of the last three and half years behind us,” and would settle for nothing less than “getting America back on the path of full employment and prosperity.”

Republicans will hold their convention in Tampa, Florida, in August to officially pledge their delegates to Mr. Romney and his vice presidential choice. Mr. Romney will be the first Mormon nominated as president by a major U.S. political party.

After losing the Republican race four years ago to John McCain, Mr. Romney overcame tough challenges from a raft of challengers, including Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Herman Cain. All of them had at one time led Republican voter opinion polls during the campaign.