PROFILES: Who's who in the US Republican presidential race
Mar 7, 2012, 14:56 GMT
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum and his wife Karen embrace during his Super Tuesday election night party at Steubenville High School in Steubenville, Ohio, USA, 06 March 2012. EPA/DAVID MAXWELL
Washington - Four contenders were seeking to gain traction in the race for the Republican presidential nomination on Super Tuesday when voters in 10 states were voicing their opinions.
MITT ROMNEY: Romney, 64, has long been seen as the frontrunner but has had to face challenges from a series of contenders charging he is not conservative enough to represent the centre-right party. He leads the count of delegates needed to secure the nomination at the party convention in August and has won eight of the 13 contests thus far.
The multi-millionaire served as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 but has spent most of his life in business at the consulting firm Bain Capital. Gingrich has tried to paint Romney as a job killer for his role in buying up businesses and shutting some of them down.
Romney says his business experience puts him in the best position to turn around the faltering US economy, and calls Obama a 'socialist' who is leading the country down the European pathway of fiscal ruin. While governor, he oversaw a revamping of the state's health care system, which has drawn fire from his rival contenders for the presidential nomination.
RICK SANTORUM, 53: The former senator from the eastern state of Pennsylvania is among the more conservative candidates in the race and has emerged as the strongest challenger to Romney after being awarded a win in the opening salvo of the nomination race in the Iowa caucuses in January. He then secured wins in three small states last month.
He has garnered most attention for his conservative views on social issues, such as opposition to abortion and controversial comments on birth control, but has sought in recent days to broaden his appeal by focussing on his populist economic message.
Although Santorum served two six-year terms in the Senate in the swing state of Pennsylvania, he was trounced for re-election in 2006, losing amid a surge of support for Democrats. Pennsylvania voters also were angry at Santorum for claiming state tax money to send his children to school while he was in Congress, even though the children were home-schooled.
NEWT GINGRICH: Gingrich, 68, surged in popularity in the last days of the South Carolina campaign in January, but has struggled to remain relevant after falling behind in contests last month. On Tuesday, he appeared to have clinched his home state of Georgia, according to early projections.
The former speaker of the House of Representatives was credited with leading the centre-right party to control the lower chamber in 1994 after decades in the minority. Gingrich, who also led the attempt to drive former president Bill Clinton out of office over the Monika Lewinsky affair, later came under fire for a series of ethics violations and was the only House speaker to face discipline from the ethics committee.
His multiple divorces and marital infidelity have been an issue in the campaign in which he advocates for so-called family values. As an advocate of small government, Gingrich has called US President Barack Obama the 'most dangerous' US president ever for his support of health insurance reform and the bailout of the auto industry, among other things.
RON PAUL: A Texas congressman known for his libertarian views, Paul, 76, has a devoted following. Paul has presented himself as an alternative to the typical candidates by positioning himself as an isolationist on foreign policy and for calling for strict limits on the size of government.
Paul, who worked as a doctor before entering politics, has run for president twice before. He has become something of a celebrity among those advocating smaller government, and his son, Rand, was elected to the Senate on similar positions.
Paul has focussed his efforts on states hold caucus meetings, where his devoted supporters are more likely to have an out-sized impact, but he has yet to win a single contest.
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