Romney strengthens position with 4th win

Washington: Affirming his frontrunner status, Mitt Romney cruised to victory in the Washington state caucuses, his fourth straight win ahead of the 10-state `Super Tuesday` contest for the party nomination for November Presidential polls against incumbent Barack Obama.

With 60 per cent of precincts reporting in Washington, Romney was well ahead with 37 per cent, while Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, each of whom got 24 per cent, battled for the second spot, US media reported. Newt Gingrich was a distant fourth with 11 per cent.

In a statement, 64-year-old Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, said that his victory meant Washington state`s voters "do not want a Washington insider in the White House."

"They want a conservative businessman who understands the private sector and knows how to get the federal government out of the way so that the economy can once again grow vigorously," he said.

Romney`s victory follows his wins in his native state of Michigan and Arizona on Tuesday, and before that in the low-key Maine caucuses.

Now all eyes are on `Super Tuesday`, March 6, when primaries are scheduled in 10 States. A major victory there would almost seal Romney`s nomination, experts say.

Romney has so far won contests in seven states — New Hampshire, Florida, Nevada, Maine, Michigan, Arizona and Washington — in the race to secure Republican nomination for the November Presidential polls against Democrat Obama.

Ahead of the Washington contest, Romney led in the overall delegate count with 173. Santorum had 87, followed by Gingrich with 33. Paul had 20. It takes 1,144 delegates to clinch the nomination.