GOP hopeful Mitt Romney is poised to take the upcoming Illinois’s presidential primary after a big splashy win in Puerto Rico, earning the 20 GOP delegates in what is referred to as America’s 51st state.
CNN reports that Romney trounced Rick Santorum who reportedly received 8% with slightly more than 9,500 votes.
The other GOP hopefuls House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul did not perform well.
The upcoming Illinois primary is on Tuesday and Louisiana is on Saturday.
CNN’s tally so far has Romney with 518 delegates to Santorum’s 239. Gingrich has 139 delegates, and Paul has 69 delegates. To secure the nomination, 1,144 delegates are needed.
Romney’s Spanish language outreach and his insistance that the GOP party can appeal to Latinos with a low-tax, pro-business message resonated with voters.
“Those people who don’t think that Latinos will vote for a Republican need to take a look in Puerto Rico,” said the former Massachusetts governor, noting that the territory’s governor and its legislative leaders are conservative.
“Hispanic voters are going to vote for Republicans if we stand for something — conservative principles that bring growth and good jobs and rising home values. That’s how we’re going to win, and we’re going to get Latino voters to help us out.”
Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno also campaigned with Romney last week.
Candidate Santorum has been warring with Romney over who best represents the conservative agenda.
He used the smallscreen medium on Sunday to challenge Romney’s business experience as his strongest credentials, interviewed by CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.
Santorum said, “If Gov. Romney thinks that he is the CEO of America and can run and manage the economy, he doesn’t understand what conservatives believe in.”
Romney’s campaign released an ad in Illinois on Friday, attacking Santorum for having “never run a business or a state.”
Santorum also stated he was not quitting: “What I’m hearing is that we want a conservative nominee, that the establishment is trying to push a moderate like they did in 1976 against Ronald Reagan, like they did in 1996 with Bob Dole and what they did with John McCain,” Santorum said. “I think conservatives would like an opportunity to nominate a conservative, and that’s an opportunity.”
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