Romney wins, Santorum loses in Illinois primary
The former Massachusetts governor defeated the former Pennsylvania senator in a blowout evening.
Front-runner Mitt Romney sailed to an easy victory in the Illinois primary Tuesday night, trumping Rick Santorum in yet another industrial state showdown and padding his already-formidable delegate lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.Skip to next paragraph
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"What a night," Romney told cheering supporters in suburban Chicago. Turning his attention past his GOP rivals, he said he had a simple message for President Barack Obama, the Democrat he hopes to face and defeat in November: "Enough. We've had enough."
Romney triumphed after benefitting from a crushing advantage in the television advertising wars, and as his chief rival struggled to overcome self-imposed political wounds in the marathon race to pick an opponent to Obama.
Exit polls showed Romney preferred by primary goers who said the economy was the top issue in the campaign, and overwhelmingly favored by those who said an ability to defeat Obama was the quality they most wanted in a nominee.
The primary capped a week in which the two campaigns seemed to be moving in opposition directions — Romney increasingly focused on the general election battle against Obama while Santorum struggled to escape self-created controversies.
Most recently, he backpedaled after saying on Monday that the economy wasn't the main issue of the campaign. "Occasionally you say some things where you wish you had a do-over," he said later.
Over the weekend, he was humbled in the Puerto Rico primary after saying that to qualify for statehood the island commonwealth should adopt English as an official language.
While pre-primary polls taken several days ago in Illinois suggested a close race, Romney and Restore Our future, a super Pac that backs him, unleashed a barrage of campaign ads to erode Santorum's standing. One ad accused the former Pennsylvania senator of changing his principles while serving in Congress, while two others criticized him for voting to raise the debt limit, raise his own pay as a lawmaker and side with former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to support legislation allowing felons the right to vote.