Mitt Romney won Puerto Rico’s Republican primary today over Rick Santorum, CNN projected.
With 14 percent of results reported, Romney had 83 percent to 8 percent for Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, and 3 percent for former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, CNN said.
The primary was the latest skirmish between Romney, the frontrunner, and Santorum, who has offered himself as a conservative alternative to the former Massachusetts governor. Santorum won primaries in Alabama and Mississippi last week. Romney claimed victory in Hawaii and has amassed the most delegates.
The Republican race now turns to contests March 20 in Illinois and March 24 in Louisiana.
In network television talk shows today, Romney said he expects to become the Republican nominee, and Santorum called him a weak candidate to run against Democratic President Barack Obama in the November election.
Both Romney and Santorum campaigned in Puerto Rico, which was electing 20 delegates to be awarded on a proportional basis.
Santorum was hurt by comments he made to the Spanish- language newspaper Vocero that the territory, 99 percent Hispanic, needed to make English its main language if it was to become a state. There is no such federal requirement.
“If you want to participate as a state, in union with the United States, you need to participate in the language people speak in the states,” Santorum told the newspaper.
Following the comments, a former state senator, Oreste Ramos, resigned from a list of delegates backing Santorum.
Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno appeared in a radio ad for Romney, saying the former Massachusetts governor had “a history of economic growth and job creation like what we have started in Puerto Rico.”
© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.