Mitt Romney swept all three primaries up for grabs on Tuesday-- including the hotly-contested swing state of Wisconsin--accelerating his momentum and expanding his strong delegate lead for the Republican presidential nomination.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is now expected to shift his attention more than ever to attacking President Obama for making the economy worse, for failing to create enough jobs, for vastly expanding the spending and the power of the federal government, and for showing weakness on foreign policy.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Romney's main competitor in the GOP race, used his concession speech to bid for votes from his home state, which holds a primary April 24. If he loses there, his hopes for any come-from-behind win for the nomination probably will be over. He reminded voters in Pennsylvania that he represented them in Congress (before losing his last bid for re-election to the Senate). "You know who I am," he told a rally near his Pennsylvania home town. Santorum added that he had no intention of dropping out.
Romney won easily in Maryland, garnering about 50 percent of the vote compared to second-place finisher Santorum's 29 percent, according to Fox News projections and exit polls in a state where Romney's brand of moderate conservatism remains popular within the GOP.
Romney crushed his opponents in Washington, D.C., where Santorum had failed to qualify for the ballot. Romney gained an estimated 68 percent of the vote, according to Fox.
And he scored a narrower but still important victory in the key battleground state of Wisconsin, according to Fox News and exit polls. Santorum had campaigned heavily there in what turned out to be a futile effort to upset the front-runner.
Romney gained most of the 98 delegates at stake Tuesday, increasing his total to well over half the 1,144 delegates needed for the nomination, according to Associated Press estimates. Some delegate allocations in congressional districts were yet to be determined and they were likely to add to Romney's advantage.
Santorum had fewer than half of Romney's total, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas were very far behind.
Janet Ross of Harwood, Md., said she voted for Romney because of "his intelligence, his sense of business, having his personal life in order." Ross, who said she voted for Barack Obama in 2008, said she would consider voting for him again in November, but Romney is "the one [Republican] that I would at least consider between the two."
Wayne Price of Annapolis, Md., said he voted for Romney because of "the breadth of his experience. ... He's the one I think can beat the current president." Price added that, "People aren't going to love Romney. I think people will feel comfortable with him, and that's about all I can say myself."
With reporting from Rebekah Metzler in Annapolis