Romney wins big in Nevada caucuses

David Bartholomew

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the Nevada caucuses Saturday night after a refreshing win in Florida on Tuesday. With 71 percent of precincts reporting on Sunday night, the former Massachusetts governor held a massive lead over the field with 48 percent of the vote and was projected to be the eventual winner, while former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich came in second with 23 percent. Additionally, Texas Rep. Ron Paul came in third with 18 percent and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was fourth with 11 percent.

The win for Romney showed his momentum and presumed inevitability as the Republican presidential candidate. It also did not hurt that Nevada maintains a large Mormon population, of which church Romney is a member. On the flip side, Nevada was an expected and damaging loss to Gingrich’s campaign, who appears to be banking on bigger wins on “Super Tuesday,” March 6, when several states will hold their primaries and caucuses. However, until then, Romney continues to gain more delegates as he attempts to pick off wins in state after state.

Showing confidence in his ability to win the nomination, Romney chose to go after the president in his victory speech Saturday night while not even mentioning any of the other candidates.

“America needs a president who can fix the economy — and I do and I will,” Romney said. “My priority will be worrying about your job, not saving my own.”

As the general election heats up, all indications point that Romney will continue to criticize President Barack Obama over his handling of the economy. However, recent unemployment numbers show that the rate fell from 8.5 to 8.3 percent in January, which bodes well for the president and may prove to be a challenge for Romney if the economy continues to get better as November approaches.

Meanwhile, Gingrich and the other Republican candidates have vowed to continue to challenge Romney in the presidential race, especially with Gingrich promising to take the race “all the way to Tampa,” where the party’s national convention will take place in August. This type of rhetoric has scared some in the GOP who feel that with Gingrich standing in Romney’s way, it will be harder to solidly unite the party come August and threaten the likelihood that Obama can be defeated in the presidential elections.

Gingrich, despite his win in South Carolina and second-place finishes in Florida and Nevada, seems to have lost his front-runner status to Romney. However, Gingrich has a wealthy backer in Nevadan casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has pumped millions of dollars into Gingrich’s Super PAC, and could potentially allow Gingrich to drag out the race for months.

The next contests will be Tuesday, when Colorado and Minnesota each host their caucuses and Missouri holds it primary. Thus far, Romney has 97 delegates, Gingrich has 31, Paul has 14 and Santorum sits with 10; 1,144 delegates are needed to secure the party’s nomination in August.