Mitt Romney Closes on 1,144 Delegate Target With Tuesday Sweep

Presumptive nominee could reach the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the GOP race in May.

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Mitt Romney's supporters have a message for the doubters today: 844.

That's the number of delegates that the former Massachusetts governor has garnered in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, with 1,144 needed to win the prize. He's only 300 short of the magic number, according to estimates by the Associated Press.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania has 260 delegates; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has 137, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has 79.

Santorum has already dropped out of the race, and Gingrich's campaign is hanging on by a thread. Paul is aiming to remain an influence in the GOP and nationally with his libertarian brand of conservatism, but is not considered a real threat for the nomination.

[Read Obama Making His Pitch to Young Voters in Swing States.]

The next nominating contests are in Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia on May 8, followed by Nebraska and Oregon on May 15; Kentucky and Arizona on May 22, and Texas on May 29. It's possible that Romney could reach 1,144 after Texas.

Romney's rivals have long argued that he isn't conservative enough and that many GOP voters won't accept him. But even though turnout apparently was low on Tuesday, Romney's latest victories in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island suggest that his party is finally coalescing around him.

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News & World Report and writes a daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington." He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com, at Kenneth Walsh on Facebook, and on Twitter.