Tuesday looms as an important day in U.S. presidential politics with 10 states holding presidential primary or caucus votes with a total of 419 Republican delegates at stake. The so-called Super Tuesday voting could determine whether former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney takes a major step toward securing the Republican Party’s presidential nomination or if the battle will go on indefinitely.
Four contenders remain in the Republican nomination race but Tuesday shapes up as a major showdown between Mitt Romney and his main rival, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.
Romney expects to rack up wins in Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia while Santorum looks for victories in Oklahoma and Tennessee.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has held the top leadership position in one of the largest U.S. states since George W. Bush left the post to assume the U.S. presidency in 2000.
He pledges to reduce the size of the federal government. Perry's plan includes eliminating some federal agencies, such as the Departments of Commerce, Education, and Energy.
Perry is campaigning on economic policy, holding up his record in Texas as an example of how he could improve the national economy. He has been an outspoken opponent of the Obama administration's health care reform plan. He is a conservative Christian and has signed several state laws making it more difficult for a woman to obtain an abortion. He also supports the death penalty.
In 1988 he supported the unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore. Perry switched his affiliation to the Republican Party a year later.
Both men are campaigning hard for the major prize on Tuesday, the Midwest state of Ohio where polls show a close race.
Romney continues to get endorsements from Republican Party leaders and hopes to take secure grasp of the nomination race with a strong showing on Tuesday.
“A lot of Republicans are saying, you know what, we want to take back the White House,” said Romney. "We want the guy who really understands the economy and that is our best shot at getting Barack Obama out of the White House."
Santorum continues to target conservative voters who remain skeptical of Romney’s commitment to conservative causes.
“We need a clear contrast in this election. We need someone who will go out and paint a vision for where America can go where everybody in America will have an opportunity in the economy,” said Santorum.
Former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich looks to revitalize his campaign with a victory in his home state of Georgia.
Gingrich told ABC’s This Week that a resurgence of his campaign in southern states would raise fresh doubts about Romney’s ability to win the Republican nomination. “He is the front-runner without any question. But I think he’s not a very convincing front-runner and he is a long way from having closed out this race,” Gingrich said.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul hopes to do well in the three smaller states holding caucus votes on Tuesday - Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota.
Paul continues to promise a sharp cutback in U.S. foreign aid and overseas military commitments if he is elected. He said, “We should come together as Republicans and Democrats, independents, liberals and conservatives and say 'Cut the spending overseas and stop these wars that make no sense!'"
A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to secure the Republican nomination and so far Romney has won 180 while Santorum has half that number.
The schedule of state primary and caucus votes extends into June and the Republicans will formally choose a nominee at their national convention in August in Tampa, Florida