Romney vows to clinch the nomination

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Though there was no winner yet in the crucial state of Ohio, Mitt Romney took the stage in Boston on Tuesday night to claim his victories, including his home state of Massachusetts.

“There are three states now tonight under our belt and counting. We’re going to get more before this night is over. We’re on our way,”  the candidate said. “It’s such an honor to have the citizens that I served as governor as part of our cause. Your support really means everything to Ann and me, and I’m not going to let you down. I’m going to get this nomination.”

The former Massachusetts governor said his campaign was focused on acquiring the delegates needed to clinch the nomination, as well as counting down the days to the general election in November. “We’re going to take your vote — a huge vote tonight in Massachusetts — and take that victory all the way to the White House.”

“All the way! All the way! All the way!” the crowd chanted.

Romney congratulated his rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich for their respective wins, as well as the fourth contender in the GOP race, Ron Paul, for his “steadfast commitment to our Constitution and his strong support almost everywhere you go.” He admitted to the crowd that it had been a long slog to Super Tuesday, but said through the grinding paces, he’d become a better candidate.

“Our campaign is on the move and real change is finally on the way,” he said.

Earlier in the night it was pretzels, mini hot dogs and brews for the Boston crowd who gathered for Romney’s election night party at a Copley Square hotel. The GOP front-runner’s wins began rolling in early — prompting big cheers from the crowd, who waved Romney’s blue and white “Believe in America” signs in the ballroom.

They erupted into applause it was announced that Romney had won Massachusetts – cueing the band to play the Boston Red Sox anthem “Sweet Caroline.”  When Newt Gingrich began speaking a short time later, celebrating his victory in Georgia, the campaign staff switched off Fox News on the giant television screens, airing Romney’s new video narrated by his wife: “Love Story.”

“We want Mitt! We want Mitt! We want Mitt!” the crowd chanted.

Many of Romney’s supporters were relieved that tide appeared to be turning in his favor after his embarrassing losses in Colorado, Missouri, South Carolina and Minnesota.

“He’s certainly turned two or three of the polls around from where he was a week ago. I think his message has been clearer. I think other people’s messages have been unclear,” said Winnie Gray, a 71-year-old portrait artist agent from Wenham, Mass. She said Romney had been helped by the fact that other candidates seemed to have gotten off track from the economic issues that have the most resonance for voters.

She singled out Santorum’s focus on social issues. Romney, she said, is “not leaning heavily on the social issues as the others have, and I say leave it alone. Because nobody really gives a hoot.”

Gray and several other voters said they believed the clearest sign of how long the race would drag on was likely to come out of Ohio, which was too close to call when Romney spoke.

As Romney took one step closer to the nomination, Nanny Noyes of Marblehead said her advice for him was to be less polite to his rivals: “Don’t be afraid to fight back,” she said.

maeve.reston@latimes.com This article first appeared at latimes.com