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Romney clinches GOP berth, sharpens focus on economy

According to the Associated Press count, Mitt Romney surpassed the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination by winning at least 88 delegates in the Texas primary.

Christopher DeVargas/Reuters/Las Vegas Sun

According to the Associated Press count, Mitt Romney surpassed the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination by winning at least 88 delegates in the Texas primary.

WASHINGTON - Mitt Romney clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday with a win in the Texas primary, a triumph of endurance for a candidate who came up short four years ago and had to fight hard this year as voters flirted with a carousel of GOP rivals.

According to the Associated Press count, Romney surpassed the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination by winning at least 88 delegates in the Texas primary.

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The former Massachusetts governor has reached the nomination milestone with a steady message of concern about the US economy, a campaign organization that dwarfed those of his GOP foes, and fund-raising second only to that of his Democratic opponent in the general election, President Obama.

“I am honored that Americans across the country have given their support to my candidacy and I am humbled to have won enough delegates to become the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee,’’ Romney said in a statement.

“Our party has come together with the goal of putting the failures of the last 3 1/2 years behind us,’’ Romney said. “I have no illusions about the difficulties of the task before us. But whatever challenges lie ahead, we will settle for nothing less than getting America back on the path to full employment and prosperity.’’

Romney must fire up conservatives who doubt him while persuading swing voters he can do a better job fixing the economy than Obama. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Planned Parenthood ads try to undermine Romney

NEW YORK - Planned Parenthood is unveiling one of its biggest political advertising campaigns ever, aiming to use Mitt Romney’s own words to undermine his support among women, a critical group of voters among whom he already trails President Obama, polls show.

In a new ad that will run in three battleground states, the political arm of the women’s health care organization accuses Romney of wanting to deny women access to birth control, abortions, and equal pay for the work they do.

“When Mitt Romney says, ‘Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that,’ ’’ the ad says, “Romney is saying he’ll deny women the birth control and cancer screenings they depend on.’’

That statement is somewhat misleading. Romney was answering a question about what federal financing he would target for elimination or reductions if he were elected. His campaign has said he wants to end federal financing of Planned Parenthood, not the organization itself.

But officials at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund said women understood the context of his remarks. They said the group was spending $1.4 million to run the ad in West Palm Beach, Fla., Des Moines, and the suburbs of Northern Virginia, as well as in Washington. That represents a threefold increase over the group’s total spending during the 2008 campaign. — NEW YORK TIMES

GOP representative fails to provide valid signatures

LANSING, Mich. - Representative Thaddeus McCotter said Tuesday that he will run a write-in campaign after the Detroit-area Republican failed to file enough valid petition signatures with the state to appear on the August primary ballot.

The decision comes after the stunning disclosure Friday that the five-term Republican congressman did not have 1,000 valid signatures needed to get on the ballot.

Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams said that only 200 to 300 of the 2,000 signatures turned in appear valid. McCotter, who briefly ran for president this year, is running for reelection in Michigan’s 11th congressional District. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

AT&T chairman donates $30,800 to Republicans

WASHINGTON - AT&T chairman Randall Stephenson lost $2.08 million in bonus pay after Democrats killed his bid to build the biggest mobile provider. Six weeks after the deal collapsed, he made his largest campaign donation in more than two decades of giving to Republicans.

His $30,800 contribution to the Republican National Committee punctuated months of sniping between the biggest US telephone company and the Democratic-controlled Federal Communications Commission.

Stephenson and FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat, have disagreed over spectrum policies and whether killing AT&T’s proposed $39 billion merger with T-Mobile USA Inc. led to price increases.

“There’s still a lot of ill will from the T-Mobile deal,’’ said Christopher King, a Baltimore-based analyst. “The risk is you tick off regulators and they don’t like to see themselves trashed every time they turned around. They have to be careful in terms of going too far.’’ — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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