Mitt Romney clinches GOP nomination with Texas win (+video)

By Stephen Ohlemacher

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, May 30 2012 6:10 a.m. MDT

Both Trump and Romney steered clear of the issue at Tuesday's fundraiser. Asked Monday about Trump's contentions, Romney said: "I don't agree with all the people who support me. And my guess is they don't all agree with everything I believe in." He added: "But I need to get 50.1 percent or more. And I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people."

Republicans won't officially nominate Romney until late August at the GOP national convention in Tampa, Fla. Romney has 1,183 convention delegates.

He won at least 97 delegates in Texas with 33 left to be decided. The 152 delegates in Texas are awarded in proportion to the statewide vote. The other delegates were sprinkled among several candidates.

Texas Republicans also voted in a Senate primary to choose a candidate to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Solicitor General Ted Cruz were headed to a runoff in July.

With about three-fourths of precincts reporting, Dewhurst led with 45 percent of the vote compared to 33 percent for Cruz. Dewhurst, however, fell short of the majority he needed to avoid a runoff. The nominee will be strongly favored to win in November in heavily Republican Texas.

Romney, 65, is clinching the presidential nomination later in the calendar than any recent Republican candidate — but not quite as late as Obama in 2008. Obama clinched the Democratic nomination on June 3, 2008, at the end of an epic primary battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton. Four years ago, John McCain reached the threshold on March 4, after Romney had dropped out of the race about a month earlier.

This year's primary fight was extended by a back-loaded primary calendar, new GOP rules that generally awarded fewer delegates for winning a state and a Republican electorate that built up several other candidates before settling on Romney.

Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Trump — all of them sat atop the Republican field at some point. Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann peaked for a short time, too. But Romney outlasted them all, even as some GOP voters and tea party backers questioned his conservative credentials.

The primary race started in January with Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, narrowly edging Romney in the Iowa caucuses. Romney rebounded with a big win in New Hampshire before Gingrich, the former House speaker, won South Carolina.

Romney responded with a barrage of negative ads against Gingrich in Florida and got a much-needed 14-point win. Romney's opponents fought back: Gingrich called him a liar, and Santorum said Romney was "the worst Republican in the country" to run against Obama.

Gingrich and Santorum assailed Romney's work at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded, saying the firm sometimes made millions at the expense of workers and jobs. It is a line of attack that Obama has promised to carry all the way to November.

On Feb. 7 Santorum swept all three contests in Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota, raising questions about Romney's status as the front-runner. After a 17-day break in the voting, Romney responded with wins in Arizona, Michigan and Washington state before essentially locking up the nomination on March 6, this year's version of Super Tuesday.

Romney has been in general-election mode for weeks, raising money and focusing on Obama, largely ignoring the primaries since his competitors dropped out or stopped campaigning. Santorum suspended his campaign April 10, and Gingrich left the race a few weeks later.

Both initially offered tepid endorsements of Romney but Gingrich is now actively promoting Romney's campaign.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul said on May 14 he would no longer compete in primaries, though his supporters are still working to gain national delegates at state conventions.

Rich Galen, a Republican strategist who has been unaligned in the 2012 race, said the long, sometimes nasty primary fight should help Romney fine-tune his campaign organization so it can operate effectively in the general election. Galen doesn't, however, think it was relevant in toughening up Romney for the battle against Obama.

"Romney's been running for president for six years. He is as good a candidate as he's ever going to be," Galen said. "Whatever you say about him, he was better than everybody else in the race."

Associated Press writer Steve Peoples contributed to this report from Las Vegas.

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