May 30 (Bloomberg) -- Mitt Romney clinched the Republican presidential nomination by winning yesterday’s Texas primary, a victory that put him over the top in the delegate chase.
Romney now has at least 1,191 delegates, the Associated Press reported, with 1,144 needed to secure the nomination and challenge President Barack Obama in November’s election. Romney began the day with 1,086 delegates, and won most of the 152 at stake in the Texas vote.
The former Massachusetts governor had 69 percent of the primary vote with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Representative Ron Paul of Texas had 12 percent, followed by former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania with 8 percent and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia with 5 percent.
“Our party has come together with the goal of putting the failures of the last 3½ years behind us,” Romney said in a statement issued last night by his campaign office in Boston. “We will settle for nothing less than getting America back on the path to full employment and prosperity.”
Obama called Romney this morning to congratulate him, the president’s campaign said in a statement. Obama “said that he looked forward to an important and healthy debate about America’s future, and wished Governor Romney and his family well throughout the upcoming campaign,” according to the statement.
Romney campaigned yesterday in Colorado and Nevada, two of the 10 or so states that polls show are the most competitive in his matchup with Obama. The Republican finished the day at a Las Vegas fundraiser with billionaire Donald Trump, who is persisting in questioning whether Obama was born in Kenya. Obama, 50, released his long-form birth certificate in April 2011 that showed his birthplace to be Honolulu.
Republicans will formally nominate Romney, 65, at their national convention Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Florida. One of his major tasks before his nomination is to select a running mate, a process the campaign began last month.
Romney effectively locked down the nomination when Santorum, who had emerged as his main rival in the Republican race, announced on April 10 he was ending his candidacy.
Santorum, 54, and Romney battled for support throughout much of January and February. Romney scored a crucial victory on Feb. 28 when he won his native state of Michigan by 3 percentage points over Santorum. Romney, who unsuccessfully sought his party’s nomination in 2008, maintained his front-runner’s status in this year’s race with primary wins March 6 in Ohio, March 20 in Illinois and April 3 in Wisconsin.
Romney declared the Republican race over on the night he swept five primaries on April 24, including one in Pennsylvania. He has focused since then on Obama, offering himself as more capable of guiding the nation’s economy than the president.
Five states, including California, conduct presidential primaries on June 5, and the last of the contests occurs June 26 in Utah.
In the Texas Democratic primary, Obama faced three little-known opponents. The president had 88 percent of the vote, with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.
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