February 1st, 2012
01:09 AM ET

Romney claims victory in Florida, builds new momentum

Mitt Romney headed west Wednesday to begin campaigning in Minnesota and Nevada after cementing his status as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination with a solid victory in Florida's bitterly contested primary.

Romney had 46% compared to 32% for Newt Gingrich, 13% for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and 7% for Texas Rep. Ron Paul, according to the Florida Department of State website.

The victory gave Romney all 50 of Florida's convention delegates, and more importantly, new momentum heading into a series of caucuses and primaries building up to Super Tuesday on March 6, when 10 states will hold nominating contests.

In a sign of Romney's new prominence, a federal law enforcement source told CNN that Romney will receive Secret Service protection "within days."

Appearing to cheers of "Mitt, Mitt, Mitt" just 30 minutes after the last polls closed, the former Massachusetts governor thanked his supporters for what he called a "great victory."

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  1. yrfuture12

    I am a Democrat, but consider myself more of an Independent voter, and a moderate. and I have proudly voted in every presidential election since I turned 18. However, if i had to vote for one of the Republicans, I would vote for Ron Paul because he believes more as I do, on important issues such as freedom,foreign policy, abortion and reducing the national debt. Romney would be good with the ,economy but he is too ready to send our sons and daughters to war. Santorum is Catholic which is a plus for me and also I feel he can relate the best to ordinary people, but he also seems too ready to go to war. Gingrich is not even an option, because of his morals and past. President Obama has done a good job with National Security which is really important, and the economy I hear is picking up, so at this point I have no reason to vote for anyone else. However, I am still undecided, so if i do vote for someone other Obama at this point it would probably be Dr. Ron Paul and then Santorum. Some say they won't vote because it doesn't make a difference, but I feel that voting is one of our freedoms our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters have fought for and are still fighting for! I encourage everyone to get out and vote for whomever you think and feel should be the leader of the free world . It's your future, so please occupy your vote!

    February 1, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ancient Texan

    Romney is a RINO and isn't a fair competitor in the primary races. With his huge war chest he can slander the opposition with multi-millions of dollars woth of of negative ads and influence uninformed voters. Gingrich has flaws, as does everyone, but the 4 balanced budgets in a row, and the much needed welfare reform during the Clinton years will always be a factor in the support from conservatives. FDR, JFK, LBJ, and Bill Clinton also had moral issues, but served their country. That said, if Romney wins the nomination, I'll probably hold my nose and vote for him.

    February 1, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bill

    I'm not sure anyone in the GOP is truly contented with their group of possibles but it woulld appear that even Romney's Mormonism is not as big a deal with a higher functioning population who don't see it as a cult or whatever. Gingrich is starting to show himself with his brash and childish comments and responses – like no phone call to the Romney , moon walking, etc. Hard to believe that people can overlook completely the fact that he was actually drummed out of the Speakers job for ETHICS and is on his third wife via a series of INFIDELITY issues. Character should be an issue in our elected officials and he apears a bit short of this important virtue.

    February 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |