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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.

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In nationally broadcast remarks Sunday, Santorum sidestepped when asked if he would fight Romney on the convention floor if he failed before August to stop the former Massachusetts governor from getting the required number of delegates.

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Romney aides privately likened the situation to the Black Knight in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" who loses his arms and legs in battle with King Arthur but insists he has only a flesh wound. The Romney camp suggested that Tuesday's performance would extend Romney's delegate advantage, even if he loses the popular vote.

Santorum cannot win at least 10 of the state's 54 delegates because his campaign failed to file the paperwork.

One Romney aide recently said it would take "an act of God" for Santorum to earn enough delegates to prevail.

"Mitt's going to do well," said Romney's Illinois chairman Dan Rutherford, the state treasurer. "I think he will do better than the other three people. ... But my focus is on the delegates because that's really what the game is all about."

Polls suggest the Illinois race is close. And even at a Romney campaign stop Sunday, voters were divided.

"I'm leaning toward Santorum, but I wanted to hear him in person," said Nichole Warren, a 32-year-old stay-at-home mom from nearby South Beloit. "I hear (Romney) talk and I hear a lot of Obama in him, and that scares me."

But Sid Haffenden, a 61-year-old retired toll-way worker, said, "Santorum has too much baggage." He added, "I want a businessman."

Santorum is not giving up. He will spend Monday and Tuesday courting Illinois voters. Santorum plans to host four rallies Monday.

While offering a confident front, Romney cut short campaign plans in Puerto Rico over the weekend to spend more time in the state. He arrived Saturday night and plans to stay in the state through Tuesday night.

At this rate, Romney is on pace to capture the nomination in June unless Santorum or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is able to win decisively in the coming contests.

Both have said they would stay in the race and perhaps force the nomination to a fight at the GOP's convention in Tampa if Romney doesn't amass enough delegates to arrive with a mandate. That would turn the convention into an intra-party brawl for the first time since 1976.

Including Puerto Rico's results, Romney has now collected 521 delegates, compared to Santorum's 253, Gingrich's 136 and Paul's 50, according to The Associated Press count.

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