Mitt Romney addresses supporters in Ohio on Super Tuesday
I have just spoken with the BBC about last night's contests for the Republican nomination for President --- audio to be posted later this morning --- with the take-away points: 1) Romney may have narrowly won the biggest state, Ohio, but the race goes on; 2) Romney is especially vulnerable, if the supporters of Newt Gingrich move towards Rick Santorum; 3) it's "money" v. "motivation" --- Romney has the bankroll, but Santorum's voters are far more committed in their support.
And 4) The biggest winner on Super Tuesday? Barack Obama.
Romney wins 5 states, including Ohio; Santorum takes 3; Gingrich nabs Georgia
Paul Steinhauser and Tim Cohen, CNN
Mitt Romney won five Super Tuesday states including the big prize of Ohio, while Rick Santorum took three states and Newt Gingrich grabbed a vital triumph in Georgia, CNN projected.
Results from one more contest -- the Alaska caucuses -- were still being counted.
The five victories made it a good night for Romney, padding his front-running delegate total in the Republican presidential campaign, but he failed to get the convincing showing needed to demonstrate his ability to generate support among diehard conservatives.
In particular, Romney was unable to attract strong support from tea party conservatives and evangelical conservatives -- voters who are important in a Republican primary but not as significant in a general election.
"He still has a problem with the base," said Ari Fleischer, a CNN contributor who was press secretary for President George W. Bush. "That base problem may make him attractive to independents if he gets to a general" election, but can work against Romney in the primary season.
In Ohio, Romney took a late lead of more than 12,000 votes over Santorum with 96% of unofficial results counted, and it was clear Santorum would be unable to overcome the difference.
Even if Santorum had managed to win the Ohio vote, he wouldn't get a majority of the delegates because his campaign failed to properly register them in some districts.
Santorum's victories in the Tennessee and Oklahoma primaries, and North Dakota caucuses, demonstrated his continuing strength among conservative voters, while Gingrich's win in the state that sent him to Congress allowed him to keep his campaign going.
The next contests include the Kansas caucuses on Saturday, and primaries in Mississippi and Alabama on March 13. Gingrich and Santorum are focusing on those races in conservative states in their battle to become the lone right-wing challenger to the more moderate Romney.
Santorum's campaign is planning on buying about $1 million of ads in Kansas, Alabama and Mississippi, a Santorum campaign source said.
The Santorum victory Tuesday in Tennessee hurt Gingrich's Southern strategy after the former House speaker's triumphs in South Carolina and now Georgia.