A Puerto Rico election official told the Associated Press Sunday that Mitt Romney won the territory's Republican presidential primary. But it remains unclear how big Romney's win over Rick Santorum will be--and if it will be enough to secure all of the territory's 20 delegates up for grabs.
With 38 percent of precincts reporting, Romney led with 83 percent of the vote, compared to Santorum's 8 percent. Newt Gingrich trailed with just 2 percent, followed by Ron Paul at 1 percent. If Romney wins with more than 50 percent of the vote, he would take the entire slate of delegates—further increasing his delegate advantage over Santorum, who, with just 239 delegates, has less than half the delegates Romney has amassed so far.
"So far, pretty darn good news," Romney said of the Puerto Rico results, as he shook hands with supporters at a rally in Vernon Hills, Ill., outside Chicago, where he was campaigning today ahead of that state's primary on Tuesday.
Romney was considered the favorite heading into the island's vote, having won the support of the party establishment. That includes Gov. Luis Fortuno, a Republican rising star who backed the former Massachusetts governor's campaign in January.
But Santorum, coming off wins last week in Mississippi and Alabama, tried to make a last-minute play for delegates in the territory. He campaigned on the island Wednesday and Thursday. During the trip, he stirred up controversy by telling a local newspaper that if Puerto Rico votes in favor of U.S. statehood—an issue that will be on the ballot in November—the territory would have to adopt English as its official language. Santorum later said his remarks were misinterpreted.
Romney sought to capitalize on the remark, publicly stating that he did not agree with Santorum's views. While Romney curtailed his own campaigning in Puerto Rico to concentrate on Illinois, his campaign ran a last-minute radio ad and published an "open letter" to Puerto Rico voters stating Romney's support for statehood.
Chris Moody contributed to this report.