Mitt Romney today clinched the Republican nomination to take on Barack Obama in the American presidential election.
He won his party’s Texas primary to secure the 1144 delegates needed to become the Republican candidate for the November contest.
Now he must now energise conservatives who still doubt him, while persuading undecided voters that he can do a better job fixing the nation’s struggling economy than Obama.
The former Massachusetts governor, who failed to win the nomination four years ago, outlasted a long list of Republican rivals who dropped out of the state-by-state primary battle. None of his former rivals actively campaigned in Texas.
“We did it!” Romney proclaimed in a message to supporters, noting that “it’s only the beginning.”
“An honour and a privilege and a great responsibility,” Romney told supporters at a fundraiser in Las Vegas. “I know the road to 1144 was long and hard, but I also know the road to 11-06 – November sixth – is also going to be long and it’s going to be hard and it’s going to be worth it because we’re going to take back the White House and get America right again.”
Romney, 65, will be the first Mormon to be nominated for president by a major party. His religion has been less of an issue than it was during his failed bid four years ago.
Republicans won’t formally confirm Romney as their candidate until the Republican National Convention in Florida in August. But he has reached today’s nomination milestone with a message of concern about the U.S. economy, a campaign organisation that dwarfed those of his Republican foes and a fundraising operation second only to that of Obama, his Democratic opponent in the general election.
The election will be heavily influenced by the economy and today Romney’s campaign went on the attack, releasing a video citing the Obama administration’s loan-guarantee investments in four renewable-energy firms that lost money and laid off workers. The message – “President Obama is fundamentally hostile to job creators” – has been a theme of the Romney campaign since he launched his presidential bid.
The Obama campaign released a video criticising Romney’s unwillingness to stand up to Donald Trump and the more extreme elements in his party. “If Mitt Romney lacks the backbone to stand up to a charlatan like Donald Trump because he’s so concerned about lining his campaign’s pockets, what does that say about the kind of president he would be?” asked Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter.