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Romney camp calls Santorum a Monty Python character in GOP race

Mitt Romney is calling for GOP rivals to conceded defeat. Rick Santorum is the 'Black Knight' of Monty Python fame, say Romney campaign officials.

By Steve PeoplesAssociated PRess / March 19, 2012

The intrepid Black Knight refuses to give up, even after losing several limbs, in the 1975 movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Mitt Romney campaign officials are calling Rick Santorum the Black Knight of the GOP race.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Vernon Hills, Illinois

Mitt Romney's increasingly confident campaign is intensifying calls — publicly and privately — for his Republican opponents to concede defeat in the presidential nomination battle, even before Illinois voters have their say Tuesday in the campaign's next big contest.

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Romney extended his delegate lead Sunday in Puerto Rico, where he trounced rival Rick Santorum and scored all 20 of the Caribbean island's delegates. Romney has collected more delegates than his opponents combined and is poised to win the delegate battle in Illinois, even if he loses the popular vote, thanks to missteps by Santorum's shoestring operation.

Romney's wife, Ann, declared Sunday night in suburban Illinois that the time has come for her husband's rivals to quit the race.

"We need to send a message that it's time to coalesce," she said, Mitt at her side. "It's time to get behind one candidate and get the job done so we can move on to the next challenge, bringing us one step closer to defeating Barack Obama."

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Brushing aside skepticism from the party's right flank, Romney aides have been emphasizing their overwhelming mathematical advantage in the race to 1,144 delegates — the number needed to clinch the GOP presidential nomination and face President Barack Obama in the fall.

Santorum has all but conceded he cannot earn enough delegates to win, but claimed he was in contest for the long haul because Romney is a weak front-runner.

He said Monday that he'll "go out and compete in every state, calling Illinois a "two-person race."

"What I've said is, I think it's going to be very difficult as this goes on for anybody to get that magic number" to clinch the nomination, Santorum said in an interview on CBS's "This Morning."

He called Romney a "big-government heavyweight," responding on MSNBC Monday to the Massachusetts governor's assertion that he couldn't match up on economic expertise. Santorum told CBS he thinks the chances of a brokered GOP convention in August "are increasing."

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