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Super Tuesday Takeaways: Romney defiantly declares 'I'm going to get this nomination'
WASHINGTON (AP) ' Some notable moments from Super Tuesday and Republican contests from Alaska to Massachusetts:
Mitt Romney dug in, refusing to acknowledge setbacks and defiantly declared: "I'm going to get this nomination."
Romney came up short in Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Dakota to rival Rick Santorum. He didn't deny Newt Gingrich a win in his home state of Georgia. And despite heavy spending from him and his allies, he was in a closer-than-he-would-like contest with Santorum in Ohio, the day's crown jewel.
At the same time, exit polls of Ohio Republican voters gave Santorum an easy lead among the socially conservative. Born-again or evangelical voters gave him a double-digit lead over Romney, who is Mormon.
"There are three states now tonight under our belt, and counting. We're going to get more before this night is over. We're on our way," Romney said in Boston.
"We're doing some counting. We're counting up the delegates for the convention, and it looks good. And we're counting down the days until November, and that looks even better."
SANTORUM IS BACK
Santorum endured four consecutive losses to Romney. Then he found a second life as the race turned to deeply conservative states such as Tennessee and Oklahoma on Tuesday. And the mere fact he was running close in Ohio ' despite not being on all of the ballots ' showed just how deep the troubles Romney faced among the party's base.
"This was a big night tonight," Santorum told supporters in Ohio, where he wasn't on every voters' ballot and didn't qualify for all of the eligible delegates. "We have won in the West, the Midwest and the South, and we're ready to win across this country."
Santorum aides said the wins in Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Dakota would provide him momentum and money to fuel his underdog campaign. He immediately sent a fundraising e-mail trying to capitalize on his burst of interest.
A win in Ohio would be a capstone to a night that could restore the allure of Santorum as chief anti-Romney in the GOP field and extend the calendar for weeks if not months.
GINGRICH NO FAN OF 'ELITES'
Gingrich cast his campaign as an underdog effort against the "elites" he loves to bash during campaign speeches.
The former House speaker, who left office to make millions as a well-connected consultant, loves to hate the "elites" so much that he used the word five times in accepting his home state win.
"We survived the national elite's effort to kill us in the summer because of you, because people who said, we are not going to allow the elite to decide who we are allowed to nominate," Gingrich said to cheers.
Mention three: "And June and July were really hard, and it was precisely because the national elite ' especially in the Republican Party ' had decided that a Gingrich presidency was so frightening that they had to kill it early."
Four: "And, you know, for that entire campaign, all of the elites thought we were crazy."
And for good measure, when describing himself, five: "What you have to have is somebody who knows what they believe, understands how to articulate it so it cuts through all the media, offsets the bias of the elite media who are desperate to re-elect the president and has the guts to take the president head-on every single time he's wrong."
FROM THEIR MOUTHS:
' "Tonight, we've taken one more step towards restoring the promise of tomorrow," Romney said. "Tomorrow, we wake up and we start again. And the next day, we'll do the same. And so we'll go, day by day, step by step, door by door, heart to heart. There will be good days; there will be bad days. Always long hours, never enough time to get everything done. But on Nov. 6, we're going to stand united, not only having won an election, but having saved a future."
' "We keep coming back," Santorum said in Steubenville. "We are in this thing. We are in this thing not because I so badly want to be the most powerful man in this country. It's because I want so badly to return the power to you in this country."
' "We looked at each other and we thought: You know, remember when it was Tim Pawlenty who was going to crowd me out? And remember then when it was Michele Bachmann? And then it was our good friend, Herman Cain the first time? And then, for a brief moment, it was Donald Trump almost. And then it was our good friend, Rick Perry, then it was Herman Cain the second time, and now it's Santorum," Gingrich said. "There are lots of bunny rabbits that run through. I am the tortoise. I just take one step at a time."
' "So if you look at the candidates today, there is very little difference, except for one," Rep. Ron Paul said to applause. "The rest of the candidates support the status quo. Foreign policies never change. Monetary policy doesn't change. There's no challenge to the Federal Reserve system. And most of all, there's no desire to protect personal liberty, personal privacy, protect us from the intrusiveness of the federal government, to protect your right to use the Internet."