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Romney promises 'better America' after five-state primary sweep puts pressure on Gingrich

 

Mitt Romney swept Tuesday's five Republican primaries, all but eliminating any remaining doubt that he will be the Republican candidate to face President Obama in November -- though closest rival Newt Gingrich remains in the race for now.

Romney, who for weeks has been turning his campaign's focus toward the general election, continued to refine his pitch for ending Obama's presidency after one term.

"Everywhere I go, Americans are tired of being tired, and many of those who are fortunate enough to have a job are working harder for less," Romney said from Manchester, N.H., near where he started his campaign in June. "To all of you, I have a simple message: Hold on a little longer. A better America begins tonight."

Romney won easily in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Gingrich desperately trails by every marker – including the delegate count, campaign money and primary or caucus victories. He spent extensive time in Delaware with hopes that a strong showing might keep his campaign alive.

A staffer indicated Tuesday afternoon that Gingrich would “reassess” after Tuesday's voting. However, the former House speaker told about 150 supporters in Concord, N.C., after the polls closed only that he would take a realistic look at his campaign over the next couple of days and that the five-state defeat was a "clear enough" indicator about his future.

"I think every conservative in this country has to be committed to defeating Barack Obama, and let’s be very clear about this," he said.

Gingrich, who won only the South Carolina and Georgia primaries, has vowed to stay in the race until the GOP convention in August, but his campaign is carrying more than $4.3 million in debt and has been spending more money than it's raising.

Romney needs to reach 1,144 delegates to clinch the nomination outright. Though that goal was unattainable Tuesday, the victories essentially made it mathematically impossible for either Gingrich or Texas Rep. Ron Paul to reach that number, based an Associated Press tally.

A total of 209 delegates were at stake Tuesday.

The latest AP tally has Romney at 739 delegates, Gingrich at 137 and Paul at 75. Rick Santorum had 260 delegates before he suspended his campaign earlier this month.

On the Democratic side, President Obama was expected to formally clinch his nomination on Tuesday -- achieving the needed 2,778 delegates by the time polls closed. Not that there was ever any doubt, as the Democratic primary was uncontested.

In a speech that focused on Obama, Romney, who has won 43 primaries, vowed to improve the economy and limit government while addressing the needs of women, seniors, veterans the unemployed and others Americans.

"There was a time not so long ago when each of us could walk a little taller and stand a little straighter because we had a gift that no one else in the world shared." he said. "We were Americans. That meant something different to each of us but it meant something special to all of us. ... Those days are coming back. That’s our destiny."