Mitt Romney has won the Arizona Republican presidential primary, and bested rival Rick Santorum to win the GOP primary in his home state of Michigan.
The Arizona win was expected. Romney's rivals spent little time campaigning in the state. Romney faced a much tougher battle in Michigan. The son of the former governor of the state went into Tuesday's contest in a dead heat with Santorum, with the two campaigns spending ch time and money in the state.
The GOP's two other remaining candidates, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, made little effort in either state, focusing instead on next week's Super Tuesday, primaries and caucuses that will take place in ten states.
"We didn't win by a lot," Romney told cheering supporters in Michigan, "but we won by enough." He also tweeted: "I take great pride in my Michigan roots, and am humbled to have received so much support here these past few weeks. On to the March contests."
In his Michigan victory speech, Romney didn't mention Santorum, who courted socially conservative voters and came close to defeating him. Instead, Romney kept his focus on President Barack Obama and a core economic message, saying he'll bring "more jobs, less debt and smaller government."
The two state sweep was necessary for Romney to help stem the momentum the Santorum campaign got after his three state sweep earlier in the month.
Santorum, who was campaigning in Ohio, one of the Super Tuesday states, told his supporters, "A month ago they didn't know who we are, but they do now," after the Michigan results came out.
"We came into the backyard of one of my opponents, in a race that everyone said, `Well, just ignore, you have really no chance here.' And the people of Michigan looked into the hearts of the candidates, and all I have to say is: I love you back," he said.
Michigan's precinct returns showed Romney with 41 percent of the vote and Santorum at 38 percent. Paul won 12 percent of the vote to 7 percent for Gingrich. In Arizona, with votes counted from 90 percent of the precincts, Romney had 47 percent, Santorum 27 percent, Gingrich 16 percent and Paul 8 percent.
Romney picked up all of the Arizona's 29 delegates. In Michigan, the delegates are apportioned by the popular vote.Two were set aside for the winner of each of the state's 14 congressional districts. The remaining two delegates were likely to be divided between the top finishers in the statewide vote.
The lengthening GOP nomination struggle has coincided with a rise in Democratic President Barack Obama's prospects for a new term. A survey released during the day showed consumer confidence at the highest level in a year, and other polls show an increase in Americans saying they believe the country is on the right track.
Along with the improving economy, the long and increasingly harsh campaign, in which Gingrich and Santorum have challenged Romney as insufficiently conservative, has prompted some officials to express concern about the party's chances of defeating Obama in the fall.
In interviews as they left their polling places, Michigan voters expressed a notable lack of enthusiasm about their choices. Just 45 percent said they strongly favored the candidate they voted for, while 38 percent expressed reservations and 15 percent said they made the choice they did because they disliked the alternatives.
With the Associated Press