Mitt Romney has taken the Florida Republican primary after a convincing win over Newt Gingrich.
Putting last month’s loss in South Carolina far behind him, Romney surged in opinion polls, performed well in two debates and pounded his rival with negative advertising.
In the end exit polls indicated the economy was the key issue for a majority of voters.
“My leadership will end the Obama era and begin a new era of American prosperity,” Romney told supporters at his headquarters in Tampa Florida.
Florida was a winner-takes-all state worth 50 delegates towards the total of 1,144 a contender needs to win the nomination.
Newt Gingrich was the only one to take on Romney, with fellow candidates Ron Paul and Rick Santorum giving the state a miss.
“It is now clear,” said Newt Gingrich, “that this will be a two person race between the conservative leader Newt Gingrich and the Massachusetts moderate.”
So, that is the fourth state-by-state contest over in the quest to pick a challenger for President Obama. Next comes Nevada, which Romney easily won in his first run for the White House. Later on it is all eyes on Super Tuesday in March.