Mitt Romney is one step closer to becoming the GOP presidential nominee after a double-digit victory in Tuesday’s Republican primary in Illinois.
With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Romney raked in an impressive 47 percent of the vote followed by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum with 35 percent. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) finished third with 9 percent and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich round up the field with 8 percent.
For Romney, the victory was an essential step in becoming the GOP nominee. It provides his presidential campaign with a boost that reinforces his claim as the inevitable nominee who will face off against President Barack Obama in November.
“Tonight, we thank the people of Illinois for their vote and for this incredible victory,” said Romney, who is already looking to November’s battle with President Obama. “This November, we face a defining decision. Our choice will not be one of party or personality. This election will be about principle. Our economic freedom will be on the ballot.”
Romney now has claim to a total of 562 delegates in a race to the 1,144 need to win the nomination.
Candidates will now begin to campaign in Louisiana, Maryland and Wisconsin where the next round of primaries is scheduled for April 3. Following the April 3 contest, the GOP presidential field will get a break until voting continues on April 24.