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Romney, Gingrich notch Super Tuesday wins as GOP rivals slug it out in coast-to-coast contests
WASHINGTON (AP) ' Mitt Romney scored an easy primary victory in Virginia, seized the advantage in Vermont and had a home-state Massachusetts win in his pocket in the 10-state, Super Tuesday battle in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich countered with a home-field win in Georgia, while Rick Santorum and Ron Paul looked elsewhere for triumph ' and Republican National Convention delegates ' on the busiest night of the race to pick a rival to Barack Obama.
The featured race of the night was in Ohio, where Romney and Santorum dueled in a second industrial state showdown in as many weeks.
In line with states that held contests earlier in the year, a plurality of Ohio primary voters interviewed as they left their polling places said an ability to defeat Obama mattered most to them when it came time to choose a candidate. Not surprisingly, the economy was the No. 1 issue in a state where unemployment was measured at 7.9 percent in December.
In all, more than 400 delegates were at stake on the night, with primaries in Tennessee and Oklahoma as well as Virginia, Vermont, Ohio, Massachusetts and Georgia. Caucuses in North Dakota, Idaho and Alaska rounded out the calendar.
Gingrich's victory was his first since he captured the South Carolina primary on Jan. 21, and the former House speaker said it would propel him on yet another comeback in a race where he has faded badly over the past six weeks.