Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has won the Michigan Republican primary, making him the third candidate from his party to have won a major contest in the past few weeks. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Detroit, Romney's victory keeps the Republican race wide open.
Mitt Romney's win here in Michigan leaves the race for the Republican nomination up for grabs, with three separate candidates having won the past three major contests. It also gives more importance to the primaries and caucuses coming in the next few weeks.
After it was clear he had won Michigan, Mitt Romney came before cheering supporters in the Detroit suburb, Southfield.
"Tonight marks the beginning of a comeback, a comeback for America," said Mitt Romney.
Romney went on to say that he would carry forward the economic revitalization theme he had employed here in Michigan, saying he would fight for jobs and economic growth. He says he will bring his team to Washington to repair what he describes as a broken system of government.
Having won his first primary victory, Romney called on his supporters to follow him to further victories in the weeks and months ahead.
"Let's take this campaign to South Carolina and Nevada and Florida and all over the country," he said. "Let's take it all the way to the White House."
Mitt Romney had an advantage here in Michigan that may not be much help in the coming primaries. He was born here and his father was governor of the state during the 1960's. His emphasis on fighting for American jobs had a special resonance here because Michigan has lost around 150,000 jobs, mostly in manufacturing, in the past decade. The state's unemployment rate is above seven percent. But Romney has said he believes the problems afflicting Michigan are also concerns in other states and he touts his work in the private sector as an attribute that will help him succeed as president, in addressing economic problems.
John McCain conceded his loss to Romney and thanked the state's voters for their participation in the election.
"The people of Michigan have spoken," said John McCain. "I respect their decision and I commend them for shouldering their responsibilities as citizens of the greatest nation on earth and I am very grateful for the courtesy and consideration you gave our campaign."
Coming in several points behind the two main contenders was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses just a little over two weeks ago and who placed a solid third behind McCain and Romney in last week's New Hampshire primary. He sees his next big chance in South Carolina, where the Republicans compete again on January 19.
"It looks like I won Iowa, John McCain won New Hampshire, Mitt Romney won Michigan," said Mike Huckabee. "Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to win South Carolina."
Huckabee scores well with evangelical Christians, which could help him in South Carolina. But Romney and others have attacked his record while serving as governor of Arkansas. They accuse him of raising taxes, giving educational advantages to the children of illegal aliens and pardoning a large number of prisoners who had been convicted of serious crimes.
Not contending in Michigan were Republican candidates Rudy Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City, and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson. Giuliani is placing his main bet on the Florida primary, January 29, while Thompson is expected to strongly compete for votes in South Carolina, next week.