U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks at his "Super Tuesday" primary election night rally in Steubenville, Ohio, March 6, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Jim Young
Mitt Romney may have won the delegates, but not the momentum, and despite his six wins, including here, he failed to deliver a knockout blow to his rivals. And so the war wages on.
The topsy-turvy GOP race will now head to Kansas on Saturday, and the deep south next week, when both Mississippi and Alabama hold primaries.
On Wednesday, Romney said he's ready for a long fight.
"We've got time, the resources and a plan to get all the delegates, and we think that will get done before the convention," he said during a television interview.
"There's not going to be a brokered convention, where some new person comes in and becomes the nominee."
Romney did win the majority -- 212 of the 419 delegates that were up for grabs in Super Tuesday's 10-state voting frenzy. He took Ohio, Virginia, Massachusetts, Vermont, Idaho and Alaska.
But his rivals claimed victory, too, and will carry substantial momentum of their own heading into the upcoming contests.
Rick Santorum won Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota, and Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia, the biggest prize of the day.
Gingrich crowed Tuesday night he's not backing down yet.
"There are lots of bunny rabbits to run through," Gingrich said Tuesday night from his Georgia headquarters, referring to the other anybody-but-Romney candidates who have come and gone in this GOP race so far. "Now it's Santorum.
"I'm the tortoise, and I just take this one step at a time."
To win the Republican party nomination and take on President Barack Obama in November, a candidate needs to secure 1,144 delegates at the GOP convention in late August.
Romney currently leads the delegate count with 415, followed by Santorum with 176, Gingrich with 105 and libertarian Ron Paul with 47.
Gingrich is banking on big wins next week to vault him back into the top tier, where he is hoping to replace Santorum as the credible Romney alternative.
"In the morning we are going on to Alabama. We're going on to Mississippi. We're going on to Kansas, and that's just this week," he told supporters Tuesday night. So far, Gingrich has only won in the south, carrying South Carolina and now Georgia.
But the south, with its large religious populations and fervent social conservatism, is likely to be welcome ground for Santorum, too, who has framed himself at times as the pro-life culture warrior in this race.
Romney, on the other hand, who has failed to generate enthusiasm among vast swaths of the Republican's evangelical and ultra-conservative base, is not expected to compete in the southern primaries and may focus instead on the large, moderate state of Illinois.