The presumptive nominee gets victories in Pennsylvania and four other states, including Delaware -- a state Newt Gingrich had called a must-win.
Updated 10:05 p.m.
Buoyed by resounding victories in five Northeastern states, Mitt Romney sounded a confident note Tuesday as he prepared to finally be crowned the Republican nominee.
Despite losing badly in Delaware, Newt Gingrich gave no signal he planned to leave the race, removing the only hint of drama from the night. He had previously said he would reassess his campaign if Delaware didn't come through for him. But on Tuesday, he said he wouldn't leave the race any sooner than Sunday, according to NBC's Alex Moe.
Nonetheless, Romney -- taking the stage early to steal the thunder of the forlorn, rambling speech Gingrich was delivering before a garbage-bag-brown backdrop in North Carolina -- all but declared himself the nominee.
"After 43 primaries and caucuses, many long days and more than a few long nights, I can say with confidence and gratitude that you have given me a great honor and solemn responsibility," Romney told a cheering crowd in Manchester, N.H., where he launched his campaign last June.
Romney won by resounding margins in all five states -- Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island -- taking at least 56 percent of the vote in each. Gingrich's second-place finish in Delaware, 30 points behind Romney, was the closest any other candidate got. At long last, Republican voters appeared to be rallying around Romney's foregone conclusion of a nomination.