Illinois next big battleground in GOP race

Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney
Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney
AP Photo

CBS News -- Mitt Romney won big in Sunday's Republican primary in Puerto Rico, taking all 20 delegates.

Romney got 83 percent of the votes, Rick Santorum eight percent, Newt Gingrich two percent and Ron Paul one percent.

Next stop in the campaign: Illinois. That primary is Tuesday.

The battle for the GOP presidential nomination has gone on way longer than anyone ever expected.

Just a few weeks back, no one would have thought Illinois, with its 69 delegates, would be as crucial as it is turning out to be.

Romney had hoped the race would be over by now.

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Instead, team Romney spent Sunday campaigning across Illinois, shaking hands in Rockford, and flipping pancakes in Moline - all-the-while keeping up the attack on Santorum, his main rival.

"(Former Penn.) Sen. Santorum," Romney charged, "has the same economic lightweight background the president has... It's time to put in place an economic heavyweight, and I am, and I'll get that job done."

Making the rounds on the Sunday talk shows, Santorum fired back.

"If Mitt Romney's an economic heavyweight," Santorum told ABC News, "we're in trouble, because he was 47th out of 50 in job creation in the state of Massachusetts when he was governor."

Romney argues he's the only candidate who can get enough delegates to win the nomination, and that he's the best candidate to challenge Mr. Obama in fundraising.

"We have to have a nominee," Romney said on "Fox News Sunday," "who has the capacity to and the organization necessary to raise money to be competitive."

His arguments so far have failed to seal the deal - and the Republican National Committee is preparing for how to deal with a brokered convention and contested delegates among the four Republican candidates.

But the chairman of the Republican party, Reince Priebus, contends the excitement of the primaries will be good for the party, pointing out it didn't slow down Barack Obama, despite his bruising fight with Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic race.

"Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton nearly gouged each other's eyes out," Priebus said on "Face the Nation" on CBS. "What happened? He won."

Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich, who's effectively conceded Illinois, took some time off the trail, spending some time in Washington over the weekend to see the cherry blossoms.

Ron Paul has also all but conceded Illionis, leaving it to Romney and Santorum to slug it out.

A poll taken last week had Romney with a slight, four-point lead. But, as we've seen in this race repeatedly, those leads can slip away pretty fast.

To see Jan Crawford's report, click on the video in the player above.

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    Jan Crawford is CBS News' chief legal correspondent and based in Washington, D.C.