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Romney sweeps US Republican primaries

Republican front-runner wins Washington and Maryland primariesMitt Romney has won the Maryland, Wisconsin and Washington DC Republican primaries in the US, local TV networks projected, boosting his momentum as front-runner in the race for his party's presidential nomination.

Shortly after polls closed on Tuesday, the networks declared the former Massachusetts governor the victor over his Republican rivals Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

According to opinion polls, Romney had been projected to win all three primaries of Wisconsin, Washington DC and Maryland.

Tuesday's tripple win give him a nearly unassailable lead to get his party’s ticket to face President Barack Obama in November.

Santorum had hoped to break Romney's momentum in Wisconsin, a Midwestern heartland state. Romney came from behind in the last couple of weeks to surge to the top of the polls here.

The sweep in all three primaries underscores Romney's growing strength and likely increase appeals from party leaders for Republicans to rally behind him, despite deep reservations among many conservatives suspicious about whether he is one of them.

The win gives Romney 98 more delegates, putting him well over half of the 1,144 needed to clinch the nomination at the party convention in August.

And it would set the tone for the next big date on the campaign calendar, April 24, when six states hold Republican presidential contests.

Romney leads in five of them and plans to make an aggressive push in the sixth, Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Tuesday showed Santorum ahead of Romney there by 41 to 35 per cent.

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