WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney rolled to primary victories in Virginia, Vermont and home-state Massachusetts on Super Tuesday, reaching for a decisive advantage over his persistent rivals in the most turbulent race for the Republican presidential nomination in a generation.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich countered with a home-field win in Georgia in the marathon campaign to pick a rival to President Barack Obama in November. Rick Santorum looked toward Tennessee and Oklahoma for his own victories, while Ron Paul placed his hope in caucus states.
Romney also dueled Santorum in Ohio, their second industrial-state showdown in as many weeks and the marquee matchup of the busiest night of the race.
Win or lose there, Romney said "I think we'll pick up a lot of delegates, and this is a process of gathering enough delegates to become the nominee and I think we're on track to have that happen."
There were primaries in Virginia, Vermont, Ohio, Massachusetts, Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma. Caucuses in North Dakota, Idaho and Alaska rounded out the calendar.
In all, 419 delegates were at stake in the 10 states, and Romney's early wins allowed him to pad his earlier lead for the nomination.
He picked up at least 64 during the evening, Gingrich 23.
That gave the former Massachusetts governor 264 in The Associated Press count, while Santorum had 92, Gingrich 56 and Paul 25. It takes 1,144 to win the nomination at the Republican National Convention this August in Tampa, Fla.