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Romney sweep of 5 primaries gears up bid to 'win on Nov. 6'

Mitt Romney cruised through low-key primaries in New York and four other states Tuesday, demolishing his remaining opponents and declaring himself the winner of the Republican nomination for president.

"After 43 primaries and caucuses, many long days and not a few long nights, I can say with confidence -- and gratitude -- that you have given me a great honor and solemn responsibility," Romney told supporters in Manchester, N.H. "Together, we will win on Nov. 6."

The former Massachusetts governor easily carried New York, with the Associated Press declaring him the winner at 9:18 p.m. He handily defeated former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (who has exited the race).

Romney was atop New York's statewide count with a whopping 62 percent of the vote, with 91 percent of precincts reporting, followed by Paul with 16 percent, Gingrich with 13 percent and Santorum with 9 percent.

In addition to New York, Romney romped to victory in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware, claiming a cluster of Northeastern states that followed recent wins in primaries across the country. Gingrich, as late as Monday, said he might win Delaware, but that faint hope was also dashed as Romney triumphed by better than 2-to-1.

Gingrich said Tuesday night that he plans to finish a week of campaigning in North Carolina but acknowledged that he needs to look realistically at where his effort stands.

Ralph M. Mohr, the Erie County Republican elections commissioner, said he expects Romney will claim the "vast majority" of New York's 95 delegates headed to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. He also characterized turnout in Erie County as "very low, probably around 5 percent."

Romney appeared headed toward a big win in Erie County, gaining 51 percent of the vote, compared with 24 percent for Gingrich, his closest rival. With 95 percent of the vote counted, Paul tallied 14 percent, and Santorum scored 11 percent.

In the 26th Congressional District of Niagara County, Romney led with 48 percent, followed by Gingrich with 26 percent, Paul with 15 percent and Santorum with 12 percent. In the 28th District, Romney scored 52 percent, followed by Gingrich with 24 percent, Paul with 13 percent and Santorum with 11 percent.

The contests in New York and the other states turned into quiet affairs after Santorum ended his presidential candidacy April 10, and after Romney built an apparently insurmountable lead in the all-important delegate count. And while intense campaigns were waged in early contests such as the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, and more recently in states such as Wisconsin for its April 3 primary, the inevitability of the Romney nomination allowed for almost no campaign activity in New York.

Romney even skipped last Thursday's annual dinner of the Republican State Committee in Manhattan. Gingrich spoke at that event and addressed a rally in Buffalo's Ellicott Square the next day, representing the gist of the primary campaign in New York.

Tuesday night, Romney declared himself the winner of the GOP nomination in his Manchester speech, aiming to reintroduce himself to voters as his party's nominee-in-waiting. He also contrasted his economic plans with what he called President Obama's record of failure.

"Four years ago, Barack Obama dazzled us in front of Greek columns with sweeping promises of hope and change," he said. "But after we came down to earth, after the celebration and parades, what do we have to show for 3 1/2 years of President Obama?

"That kind of campaign may have worked at another place and in a different time, but not here and not now. It's still about the economy -- and we're not stupid."

Romney is still more than 400 Republican National Convention delegates shy of a nominating majority, although he is far ahead of his most persistent rivals. There were 209 at stake in Tuesday's primaries.

The presumptive GOP nominee began the day with 698 delegates of the 1,144 needed for the nomination, compared with 260 for Santorum, 137 for Gingrich and 75 for Paul.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.