WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney won three primaries, Rick Santorum countered coolly with a pair and the Republican rivals dueled for supremacy in Ohio on a Super Tuesday that stretched from one end of the country to the other in the most turbulent Republican presidential race in a generation.
Newt Gingrich won a home-field primary in Georgia, and Rep. Ron Paul looked to three caucus states for his first victory of the campaign season as Republicans choose a challenger for Democratic President Barack Obama.
Romney, who won at home in Massachusetts and in Vermont and Virginia, said, "This is a process of gathering enough delegates to become the nominee, and I think we're on track to have that happen."
Santorum waited until Oklahoma and Tennessee fell into his column before speaking to cheering supporters in Ohio.
"We're going to win a few. We're going to lose a few. But as it looks right now, we're going to get a couple of gold medals and a whole passel of silver," he said.
Ohio was the marquee matchup of the night, the second industrial state showdown in as many weeks for the former Massachusetts governor and the former senator from Pennsylvania.
With the vote tallied from 30 percent of the precincts, Santorum was gaining 39 percent, to 35 for Romney. Gingrich had 15 percent, and Paul 9 percent.