Moving closer to securing the Republican presidential nomination, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won a major victory in Florida primary Tuesday, raising the question of whether it is all over for Newt Gingrich.
With nearly all returns counted, Romney won 46 percent of the vote to Newt Gingrich's 32 percent. It does not divide us - it prepares us. And we are prepared to win, Romney said to his supporters at his Tampa campaign headquarters.
Ours will be a united party with a winning ticket for America, he added.
We still believe in the America that is the land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom. We believe in the America that challenges each of us to be bigger and better than ourselves. This election, let's fight for the America we love. We believe in America. Thank you so much. Florida, you are the best, Romney continued.
With victory in Florida, Romney has regained the momentum which could propel him as the candidate most likely to win in November. Also, it is becoming clear that the ability to beat President Obama is certainly more important to Republican voters. Romney has triumphed in two of the first four contests, having also won in New Hampshire and coming in second in Iowa and South Carolina.
Before this primary, Gingrich was on a roll with momentum from the South Carolina primary victory and a $5 million contribution from a Las Vegas billionaire. However, Romney prevailed by building a coalition that stretched across most demographic groups, according to data from an exit poll of voters.
The days ahead can be more challenging for Gingrich. There are caucuses Saturday in Nevada and next week in Colorado, Minnesota and Maine. The important point to be noted is that Romney won all four states in 2008. This will be followed by primaries in Arizona and Michigan Feb. 28.
But Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has not yet given up. He stated that the fight has only just begun. We are going to contest every place and we are going to win and we will be in Tampa as the nominee in August, said Gingrich. It is now clear that this will be a two-person race between the conservative leader Newt Gingrich and the Massachusetts moderate, he added.
It is clear that with his defeat in Florida, Gingrich has squandered the much needed momentum and he will have to do a lot of catching up for staying in the GOP race.