January 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm
Mitt Romney won Florida’s Republican primary tonight, after a grueling and costly ten-day marathon.
With nearly all the precincts reporting, Romney had 47%% of the vote, and Gingrich had 32%. Rick Santorum was third with 13% and Ron Paul was fourth at 7%.
Romney is expected to win all 50 of Florida’s convention delegates, the biggest prize so far in the nominating contest.
Romney’s decisive victory marked a stunning comeback for the former Massachusetts governor, coming ten days after Gingrich’s double-digit win in South Carolina.
“A competitive primary does not divide us, it prepares us,” Romney told a raucous crowd in Tampa after he was declared the winner.
Speaking to supporters, Romney delivered a general election-like stump speech, saying: “If you want to make this election about restoring American greatness, then I hope you will join us. “
In a rambling and undisciplined speech, Gingrich vowed to stay in the race. “We are going to contest every place and we are going to win,” Gingrich said. “We will be in Tampa as the nominee in August.”
Despite his third-place finish and early exit from Florida, Santorum spoke to supporters from Nevada. Santorum set his sights on Gingrich, noting that the former House speaker “had his opportunity” in Florida. “We can’t allow our nominee to be the issue” Santorum added.
Also speaking from Nevada, Ron Paul–who didn’t campaign in Florida at all– reiterated his pledge to campaign in the caucus states. “”We will spend our time in the caucus states, because if you have an irate, tireless minority, you do very well in the caucus states,” Paul said.