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US Republican Presidential Race Moves West


Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney celebrates his Florida primary election win at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida, January 31, 2012.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney celebrates his Florida primary election win at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida, January 31, 2012.

U.S. presidential contender Mitt Romney is marching forward with his reclaimed front-runner status into a series of smaller nominating contests starting later this week in Nevada.

The Romney campaign will concentrate its efforts Wednesday on two upcoming caucus states, Minnesota and Nevada, which will hold the next nominating contest Saturday.

The former Massachusetts governor had a message for President Barack Obama after a commanding victory in the Florida Republican primary Tuesday.

"Well, Mr. President, you were elected to lead, you chose to follow and now it is time for you to get out of the way," said Romney.

Nevada could bring another boost for Romney, who won the state's 2008 Republican presidential caucus.

Romney won 46 percent of the Florida vote on Tuesday, far ahead of his closest rival, Newt Gingrich, who took home 32 percent of the vote.

But Gingrich was confident after the Florida poll and is moving his campaign efforts on to Nevada Wednesday, as promised.

"Now, you will notice a number of folks are holding up a sign about 46 states to go," said Gingrich. "We did this in part for the elite media because, you know, the same people who said I was dead in June and July and said I was gone after Iowa, who seem totally quiet the night of the South Carolina victory, are now going to be back saying 'What is he going to do? What is he going to do? What is he going to do?' So I just want to reassure them tonight, we are going to contest every place and we are going to win and we will be in Tampa as the nominee in August."

Nevada may provide some much-needed support for Ron Paul, who is trailing the Republican field of presidential hopefuls. The Texas congressman skipped the final days of campaigning in Florida to get a head start rallying support in Nevada and Maine, which begins a week-long caucus on Saturday.

Paul came in second place in the 2008 Republican presidential caucus in Nevada, beating out eventual Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Nevada is one of eight presidential nominating contests to take place ahead of "Super Tuesday" on March 6, when 10 states will hold their nominating contests. More than 200 delegates will be handed out over the next month compared with the 437 delegates up for grabs on "Super Tuesday."

A December poll of registered Republicans in Nevada shows Romney in the lead followed by former House speaker Gingrich and Texas Representative Paul.

Under state GOP rules, Romney picked up all 50 of the delegates Florida is allocated at the national convention. To win the presidential nomination, a candidate needs 1,144 of 2,286 delegate votes at the convention.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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