BLUFFTON, South Carolina (CNN) - The morning after his first major primary victory, Republican Mitt Romney downplayed the importance of wins, saying the GOP contest this year was a delegate race.
“I’m not looking for gold stars on my forehead like I was in first grade. I want delegates. I’m pleased that I’ve been able to get delegates,” he said.
“The fact that I came in second in a couple of primaries, I know some people think that’s a devastating thing. Actually, I got delegates,” said the former Massachusetts governor. “And I’m looking to rack up the delegates I need to win the convention.”
The former Massachusetts governor said John McCain was the “clear frontrunner” in South Carolina, and that it would be a big surprise if the Arizona senator failed to win – despite recent polls that show him running just a few points ahead of second-place Mike Huckabee in the state. “This is a state I expect Sen. McCain has pretty well wrapped up,” said Romney.
He also said his campaign – which has spent record sums on television advertising in several early contests – would base its ad decisions on those of his opponents: “if somebody else is spending massively it doesn’t make a lot of sense to put a few drops in that bucket.”
The Romney campaign briefly went dark in South Carolina, as he focused his efforts almost entirely on winning the vote in his home state of Michigan. “I’m going to spend time here to try to strengthen my position,” Romney told reporters in Bluffton, South Carolina, but said Nevada and Florida would also be priorities.
Romney will be spending time later this week in Nevada, whose significant Mormon minority may give him a bit of an edge heading into the Republican caucuses this Saturday, with 31 delegates at stake, not counting the state’s three superdelegates.
- CNN’s Shirley Zilberstein and Rebecca Sinderbrand