Romney scores big in Illinois

Romney scores big in Illinois

CHICAGO- Reuters
Romney scores big in Illinois

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney reacts while greeting supporters at a rally in Schaumburg, Ill., after the winning the Illinois Republican presidential primary, Tuesday, March 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Republican Mitt Romney cruised to an easy victory over top rival Rick Santorum in Illinois on March 20, moving him one step closer to clinching the party’s volatile battle for the presidential nomination.

Romney’s comfortable win gave him a fresh burst of momentum in the White House campaign and new ammunition for his argument that it is time for Republicans to rally around his campaign and end an increasingly bitter nominating battle.

“Elections are about choices, and today hundreds of thousands of people in Illinois have joined millions across the country to join our cause,” Romney told cheering supporters in Schaumburg, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. “I’m offering a real choice and a new beginning,” he said, touting his business experience and ignoring his rivals to focus his criticism on President Barack Obama. “I have the vision and the experience to get us out of this mess.”

With 95 percent of the votes counted, Romney had 47 percent and Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, took 35 percent. Romney’s remaining rivals, Newt Gingrich and libertarian congressman Ron Paul, lagged badly. A CNN delegate count gave Romney 540 delegates to Santorum’s 239 in the race for the 1,144 needed to win the nomination.

Mitt Romney, United States, Obama